The latest act by another disenfranchised citizen has come in the form of a small plane being crashed into the Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas. The resultant fire spread quickly through the entire building and it is a miracle that only one person inside was killed. Sadly, he was a well-liked family man, a Vietnam Veteran, and known to all as one who would be the first to offer aid to anyone in need. Isn’t that always the way it goes? The pilot, Joseph Stack, an unemployed civil engineer who was unraveling over the past weeks, also died in the crash. That part, of course, is as it should be.
What, exactly, is this ever-increasing act of violence that includes taking innocent people with you during your self-imposed “flame-of-glory” exit? Family murder-suicides are rising dramatically, now often based in financial stress that finally reaches the breaking point. A pure litmus test of the degree of stress that many families are feeling, and when it comes to the point where you’re losing, or are about to lose, everything, we are seeing that those who are even slightly pre-disposed to “snapping” are doing so at an alarming rate.
Even in our tiny state of New Hampshire there has been a spate of murder-suicides in neighborhoods, and involving families, that you wouldn’t expect to see that kind of violent end. Even Stack, lit his house on fire, family still inside, before he left for the airport for his final flight. Why he did not simply fly himself into the side of a mountain is beyond me, but like many before him, he decided to take, or try to take, a few along with him.
Are there any among us who are not frustrated with our tax bills and the obscene spending by our elected officials, while our struggle to keep our homes and keep our families fed becomes more and more difficult? Still, have you ever considered such an outrageous act? Did Joseph Stack give any consideration to the aftermath of his attack, to the damage done to innocents? My first thought was…”the guy owns an airplane…things can’t be that bad…”, and yet that irony seemed lost on him.
Workplace murder is common, let’s be honest, as are school shootings. Let’s brace ourselves for the “normalization” of the notion that an increasing number of us will become unhinged and commit some heinous act. We seem to take it in stride as a culture. Remember Timothy McVeigh? Similar story. We become the enemy when we allow ourselves to become terrorists, and if the rest of us, as a society, continue to ignore warning signs amongst friends and neighbors, than we can expect the trend to continue to fester unabated. To think you can go through life, one tumbler click away from shooting your co-workers or flying a plane into a building, and none of your friends or family notices something is wrong, seems unlikely to me, but we are loathe to speak up and unsure when or what to do other than that.
I’m not looking forward to a world where we have to avoid the unhinged in the same way we watch for children when a ball rolls in front of you while driving. I’ve got enough to worry about…or then again…maybe I don’t.