Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stay Strong

My candle burns a bit brighter tonight for the 33 individuals lost yesterday in the senseless Virginia Tech massacre. It is heartbreaking whenever I hear about innocent people dying but when it hits this close to home (Blacksburg is only 3 hours from my home), it is much more real and terrifying. Unlike war, in which death is inevitable, these students were attending class and going about their daily lives in a "safe" environment - with no idea of what would transpire on this fateful day. Now, their loved ones along with the entire nation are in mourning, wondering "how does this happen and why?"

I read an article about the shooter, a VT senior named Cho Seung-Hui, and some things struck me as odd. People described him as a "loner" who had become "increasingly violent", stalking women and even setting fire to a dorm room. He had also written some strange letters in his creative writing course, which led the professor to suggest seeking counseling. All of the signs were there and people ignored it or brushed it aside. Why is it that these behaviors are overlooked until AFTER a tragedy? It is very reminiscent of the Columbine shootings on April 20, 1999. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were also "loners" who were members of the gothic "Trench Coat Mafia". They had also sent out numerous signals that went ignored until after 12 people wound up dead. What can we do as a society to recognize these cries for help and possibly prevent tragedies like these from happening in the first place? Is this an issue of bad parenting, in which parents do not spend enough time with their children to see what they have become?

Many people are upset at VT police officials, who did not get the alert out fast enough after the first shooting to prevent the next, more violent one. While the situation may have been handled differently, would it have prevented the deaths of more students? Even if the campus had been closed, it is possible that more dorm shootings could have occured. Or maybe the perpetrator would have taken to the surrounding streets for his unsuspecting victims. Bottom line is that he had the intent to kill and no action taken afterward was going to thwart him. Unfortunately, his suicide had to be preempted by taking the innocent lives of 32 other individuals.

Another thing that people blame is the media - violence on the news and glamourized in video games. It is true that these games could encourage violent tendencies but isn't it our job as parents to teach our children the difference between fantasy and reality? Aren't we the ones who must instill values in our children and teach them right from wrong, and that there are consequences to our actions? Why are some children able to take video games or other media for what they are and others use the media as a vehicle to carry out some sick master plan? Where do we draw the line?

I've viewed the incomplete profile of the identified victims of this horrific crime and I've even seen some of their MySpace pages. It brings tears to my eyes that these bright students' lives were cut short. I remember feeling this way also during the Oklahoma City bombings, even though I was in middle school at the time. The fact is this could have happened anywhere. It could have happened last year when I was still a student at Towson University. This just makes me realize yet again that we NEVER know how much time we have here on Earth. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this tragedy. Stay strong.

1 comment:

Southern Comfortable said...

It's such an awful tragedy.

I was appalled watching the news coverage on Monday, seeing how the media went from blaming the shooter to blaming the university within a matter of hours. No school is prepared for something like this. How could this have been predicted?

The victims and their families and friends are in my prayers.