Joe Stack's Storm in Austin Texas - An American Tragedy
Tragedy takes all shapes in America.
We worry on firestorms and electrical storms and hurricanes and volcanoes going bump in the night raining misery down upon us and yet we go about our daily lives unaware that at any moment something out of the blue can change our lives forever.
It's all about being at the right spot at the right time or not being there.
How many people called in sick today in Austin or went to work late after stopping to take care of some annoying problem and it may have saved their life. The fact that so few people were injured or killed is a miracle in itself.
How does a plane come crashing through a building, setting it on fire and the death toll is so little? How do we explain that?
And a sad angry storm raged in the mind of Joe Stack this morning so that he felt he had no other way to take control but to take his life and in doing so bring attention to his ongoing plight of desperation and depression over a life that was not being lived the way he hoped to have lived it when he was young.
Dreamers are fragile creatures. They have a dream, a perfect vision, an ideal they want to live up to ... an end result they hope for and long for and so often those dreams come crashing down against the hard rocks of reality. Reality bites as they say and sometimes it bites hard and often.
We pick ourselves up and start over and try a new path and we reach another dead end, a wall, a "do not pass go and do not collect $200" and most of us keep going, keep dreaming and coping as best as we can.
Some people, like Joe Stack lose the ability to find a way out that they think will work and they give up. Giving up is different for every person. Some people walk out on their lives, live in public parks with masters degrees and law degrees and a whole lot of degrees of insanity yet that is their way of taking control. I worked as a reference librarian and had the privilege to meet some of the sweetest, lost, smart souls who made the library their home away from home. They took a quiet path.
Joe Stack took a different path.. one that he knew would create a news storms of attention to the problems of his own life as well as the problems that many of us face today.
So many are angry, bitter and frustrated over a government that bailed out the rich and famous and yet has done little to help the little man, the middle class family that is struggling on it's own with no bail out money to afford Mama a chance to go to a spa or get her nails done.
One politician after another rethinks running for re-election this coming year and the one thing that has become a non-partisan issue is the reality that people are not happy with their politicians, their representatives in Washington or State Capitals and when the middle class feels threatened in history, time and time again chaos began to reign and a door to trouble opened.
This is an issue that begs to be addressed.
Joe Stack took control the only way he knew how... the only way he sadly thought was left to him ... he destroyed everything he had and hoped to take out a few people at the IRS office it seems along the way.
Bad decision for a man who could write so well in his own way of the tragedy of his life, a tragedy that many can empathize with despite disagreeing on the way he handled his problems.
But, this is America in 2010... a plane of any kind is now a weapon in the sky that can be wielded against anyone on the ground. A sad legacy of 911 it seems.
He committed suicide and that in itself is a murder even if only of his own life. He may have tried to kill his wife and step-daughter... time will unwind the strings of the messy story he left behind.
A domestic terror attack? Seriously?
We have become so big in our new world order that we now have a title to describe the acts of a desperate man taking control of his last moments?
This is a Great American Tragedy ... just as much as Willy Loman who lost his dreams and Death of a Salesman. It reminds me of the character in Network who couldn't take it anymore. Perhaps Joe liked that movie, who knows? I imagine in the next week will come to know everything about Joe Stack.
All I know is that his words, posted on a website that was immediately taken down because of the "sensitive matter" of the letter are well written and show himself to be exactly what he was... an angry man, frustrated with a storm running through his brain. He reminds me of those men that no one understands, the ones who hurt no one but themselves that refuse to leave their porch as Ike moved onshore... were they crazy? Was Isaac Cline crazy trying to be a good government employee and not issuing any cyclone warnings and following the plan and believing that the city of Galveston could withstand any hurricane and it was safe from storm surge. He was wrong... and his pregnant wife floated away in the debris of his life's decisions and drowned along with thousands of other people in the wrong spot and the wrong time that night.
Isaac Cline was wrong, he tried to be a good government employee and to follow the plan but the plan was flawed.
It is a flawed world, we all need to find a way to cope, function and keep on going when our dreams do not come true.
Joe Stack I would guess was a weather lover, as he used the word storm to explain the scene inside his mind... raging away.
First paragraph of that suicide letter is below:
"If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures."
Somewhere between the beginning of his life when he was a young man worrying on a poor elderly lady living next door living off of cat food...and crashing his plane into a building filled with the lives of other people is a story of a tragedy worse than any mother nature can throw at you.
We expect hurricanes and volcanoes to destroy our lives, we wait for blizzards and floods to affect loved ones but the saddest, slowest tragedy is the one that went on in the life of Joe Stack...the ability to not be able to cope any longer with one tragedy after another until he turned his anger into his last statement on his life.
Was he crazy? You decide over the next few days? He made a bad decision, one of many I imagine but I wonder how many more Joe Stacks are there out there that we can still be rescued from amidst the debris of their lives.
If it was a hurricane or an earthquake we would send help or donate to the Red Cross.
Where do we go to help the many who are besieged by their own storms, walking around barely functioning until the moment that they no longer can function and they give up either quietly or they decide to go out with a bang?
Time moves on but the theme is always the same... a desperate man or woman not able to take it anymore.
How do we help those before they make horrible decisions...
Before Joe ends his manifesto:
I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.
Between the young man worrying on his elderly neighbor eating cat food to survive and the older man not worrying on the lives of the people in the building on fire in Austin is a true American Tragedy... and truth is often stranger than fiction and as Rob once said, if you wrote this as a story no one would believe it.
With prayers for all those in the wake of Joe's fury and storm surge..