On November 5, 2009, Ft. Hood’s resident psychiatrist killed 13 and wounded 30. Then, this week in Killeen, TX families once again anxiously waited, reached their spouses’ answering machines, and grieved, for the second time in five years (which is frequent, considering the history of these kinds of attacks). Military truck driver Ivan Lopez shot and killed four people, injuring six, and killing himself.

Of all the controversial topics this event could raise, a common thread appears between the first Fort Hood shooting (2009), the Washington, D.C. Naval Yard shooting (2013), and this week’s shooting (2014): the mental health of the shooters (for example, here, here, here and here).

Humans are delicate and vulnerable creatures. We are reminded of this by Scripture and by the world. We are reminded when God saves you from the humiliation of open war with the Philistines just to seemingly humiliate you before Egypt, when God brings you into relationship to himself from the Hittites, and then Israel’s king steals your wife and kills you, when your governing officials build a center of international justice and protection (Ft. Hood military base of Killeen, TX) during a time of great evil (1942), only to have evil invade it from the inside out 70 years later. Twice.

We could ask whether gun control or mental health policy is more important. We could ask what the relationship is between mental health and human agency. We could talk about screenings, blame, shootings, and the system that makes them all possible. But underneath all of these lies a more basic human question: how can we live normal lives in a world seemingly governed by painful chaos?

It is the question of suffering re-wrapped. The question of safety. The question of security. So, when those who suffer from dysfunctionality, from disorders, and from abnormalities impose that dysfunction, disorder, and abnormality on the structures that signify safety to us, why does that elicit such internal angst? Events like Ft. Hood affect us so deeply because they remind us how vulnerable we really are, even when surrounded by structure and protection.

Perhaps it is because the principle of the right to personal protection is ripped to shreds. While 30-40% of Iraq while war veterans cope with “invisible wounds” (diagnosable psychiatric symptoms) that can be more debilitating than visible ones, we are left wondering how to relate to those in our lives with wounds – how to love those who have been hurt, and who have in response hurt us. When our basic structures of safety are threatened, our natural human response is to ask whether it is ever okay to be vulnerable. That’s a question that no one but the vulnerable, crucified one has the right to answer on behalf of mankind.