Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Student Guns Down Thirty-Two

I feel compelled to write something about this tragedy. Surely everyone has heard of this by now, so I will spare the details. It's difficult to imagine what that community is going through right now and it almost feels wrong to even talk about it. Those people are going through so much pain and grief, more than I could ever imagine. The worst thing about it all, is the randomness. The senseless, pointless, destruction of life.

In the next few weeks we're going to hear a lot of details come out about this story. Many will try to make sense of it all, and as often happens when we experience immense pain, we will all question "Why?" Why did this happen? We will hear how easy it is to get a handgun and that the NRA is at fault. We will hear how the administrators at Virginia Tech did not act quickly enough. How police officials could have done more. We'll hear how friends and acquaintenances of the shooter noticed seemingly insignificant tell-tale signs that they should have responded to. We'll hear how the Asian culture puts so much pressure on their children to succeed. Of course we'll hear about video game, music, and television violence and their impact on our society. We'll hear from other schools about their security and their plans to avoid a similar catastrophe and what Virginia Tech should have done. We'll all try to make sense of this mess, and eventually, most of us will move on. At least those of us who are far enough removed from the event.

So why did this happen? And why is it so important for us to figure out how it happened? Obviously we like to learn from our mistakes and we want to do everything we can to prevent something like this happening again. That's why we're not allowed to bring liquids onto a plane.

I don't know why this happened. I know it wasn't the fault of any one organization, any breach of security, any one rule, video game, or individual. I think part of the reason we want an answer so badly is because we all feel a sense of guilt over something like this. We want to pinpoint exactly where we can do better and then we want to make that change. We all feel like we could have done more. That we should have done more. And we're all probably right.

Somehow, we all feel guilty about this. We all want reconciliation for what happened. We want answers and we never want to hear of something like this again. I don't know what we can do.

So, I'll leave you with a quote from one of our own great poets. He was fortunate enough to have passed from this world before witnessing this recent reminder of what humankind is capable of doing to itself. But we've been doing this sort of thing for years.

"Hello, babies.
Welcome to Earth.
It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
It's round and wet and crowded.
At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here.
There's only one rule that I know of, babies:

God damn it, you've got to be kind."
-Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

Virginia Tech Shooting

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