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Peace Be With You


Daily, we learn more about Aaron Alexis and all the troubling signs.

Joining the Navy in 2007, Alexis was cited multiple times for misconduct before his honorable discharge in 2011. He had an arrest record. Had discharged a firearm within city limits. Had shot out the tires of someone’s vehicle. Had a history of mental illness for which he was being treated.

And there’s that contradiction: He aspired to be a monk.

This, of course, is the story of the week—the latest violence (in the U.S). By the time these paragraphs are up, latest (in the U.S.) could be something else, another Sandy Hook or George Zimmerman’s standing his ground, pulling it out from under someone else.

Late Monday, I decided to reach for the remote. As soon as I saw Chris Matthews and guests in debate about the cause of the shooting, I remembered the reason I don’t watch television anymore. A quote from Obama appeared on the screen. He’d called the rampage a “cowardly act.”

I’ve never understood this customary pronouncement.

Pointing the control, I silenced Matthews. And opened my laptop where I read a plea from MedStar Washington Hospital Center Chief Medical Officer Janis Orlowski. She said:

“There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate. I would like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots. Let’s get rid of this. This is not America.”

Dr. Orlowski’s right about the evil but wrong when she says, “This is not America.” Ask anyone living under the threat of drone warfare, of military strikes, large or small. Ask anyone within the borders that define our country who’s lost a job, a house, health insurance, is impoverished, has collided with the system. Indeed this IS America, the country that creates trauma globally with its fingerprints, boots, futuristic weaponry.

I reread Orlowski’s words on Tuesday and then clicked to this, an article about probabilities—predicting additional carnage here at home. That “if such incidents occur at the same pace for the rest of Obama’s term as they have since 2009, there could be 14 more before he leaves office.” This was followed by, “It is indisputable: white men are most likely to commit such acts, though not exclusively.”

While the shooter that paralyzed DC on Monday was a black man, another black man, the president of the U.S., is dishonorably discharging terrorism across huge swaths of our planet, albeit he’s controlled by mostly filthy wealthy white men who profit from the deaths of people of color. These murders are considered legitimate by the state, because they occur beneath banners of WAR MISSIONS.

Detouring to a piece written by CNN’s digital correspondent and mom, Kelly Wallace, I read advice for telling our nation’s children—tips to calm their fears. Perhaps, we should seek the expert wisdom of parents in those regions we’ve turned into wastelands and graveyards in the Middle East or Southeast Asia.

Jessica McFadden, a Silver Spring, MD mom, makes an appearance in Wallace’s article. She’ll “take her cues from her children about what to say and when.” Because, “One of the biggest questions children ask is why, and that’s something that we can’t answer.”
Oh, but we can.

Violence pervades our society, our senses. For weeks this country has been on the brink of yet another military action, despite public resistance. War weariness isn’t exactly a moral imperative for opposing aggression. Nor is the understanding that the war of terror inspires terrorism. Nor is the certainty that troops returning from multiple deployments may be next month’s or next year’s Aaron Alexis. Seems the sole motivation to denounce militarism should be reverence for our ecosystem.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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