Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Compassion

The shooting yesterday at Va. Tech won't roll out of me head until I take the time to release some of it.

My stomach dropped when the news came across my cnn.com home page. The same sick feeling I'd had when I heard of gunfire and death in an Amish schoolhouse or the hours 8 years ago this week when I sat in my living room and cried at live, local images of teenagers running to safety, hands atop their heads, past bodies on the grass at Columbine High School.

I grieve so deeply for the students and faculty. It’s hard to watch their faces and look into their eyes as they are interviewed on the news; they are absolutely haunted.

Now comes blame. Parents are calling for the resignation of President Charles Steger and the Virginia Tech Campus Police Chief. There will undoubtedly be lawsuits. Given the shooter has been identified as a Korean national, there could be racial backlash.

In times of tragedy and overwhelming shock and loss, society often turns to blame. We want someone to pay. A token to represent in physical form our grief and hope of redemption. Did victims’ families feel any relief minutes after the death of Timothy McVeigh? It's biblical, an eye for an eye. But the reality is, it means little. The healing rises (in time) from inside and no amount of "making you pay" will change it. I know this first hand.

Mistakes and miscalculations may have been made at Va. Tech, but it’s purely hindsight that provides what some feel is greater knowledge in this moment. The situation unfolded differently to the young men and women, faculty, administration and police on campus Monday morning.

After Columbine, my city was awash in purple ribbons, “Why?’ asked over and over and over. It’s human tragedy, and sadly I knew the “Why’s” would begin again with the next, even more grotesque event. Sometimes there’s no answer to “Why”. Or it’s an answer we don’t have the courage to utter.

We need peace, not blame. Compassion.

5 comments:

Joe the Troll said...

You are absolutely right. I cringe when I see the inevitable question on the news "What could have been done to prevent this? Why didn't people see the warning signs?" As if someone is going to think " Gee, this person is angry and/or not doing well in school. I guess he'll probably get himself a couple 9mm handguns and go on a rampage if I don't say or do something." People can't always tell what others are going to do, and sometimes there may be 10 different warning signs, but no one person sees them all, and they don't mean anything when viewed seperately.

PJ said...

Wonderful post. Violence can happen anywhere and when it strikes, one of the greatest tragedies is that instead of comforting each other, people turn into vultures.

Lucyp said...

You can only guess what the students saw and it chills the blood to imagine yourself in the school at the time. Truly frightening.

Jodie K said...

Hi, Joe...bottom line is compassion. I often fail, I'm not perfect, but I try.

PJ...a lasting memory of Columbine (which still brings me to tears), I was running errands the weekend after and thought suddenly I’d like to go to the school, leave some energy. So I shifted lanes abruptly, in mid-thought, and was met with a middle-age couple flipping me off, calling me a stupid bitch. They had a bumper sticker that read, "Columbine – We are one”. Guess I wasn’t “one” that day.

LucyP...can't imagine it.

Paula said...

I agree with the part about not being able to fully prevent this stuff, though if you do notice someone who seems to be having serious problems, it might be a good idea to pay attention. But some of these people never show their problems, and loads of young men seem angry, lots of English majors write "dark" stuff, etc. People want to feel more in control so they blame things - if only X Y and Z weren't around, then bla bla. Just so happens that most of these people already have an agenda re X Y and Z. I admit my reaction is on the anti-gun side, though that isn't entirely logical. The mayor of Nagasaki was just gunned down in a country with strict GC laws.

As far as firing incompetents, I'm all for that. If it turns out that the police chief or the college pres or whomever didn't do their job properly, why should they get another chance?

Search me