It’s so terrible as to seem surreal. To survivors and the families of victims, it must feel as if they’ll never overcome it. It jolts all of us out of our normal lives and rams us face-to-face with a reality we seldom have to face.
We’re swamped with opinions from every possible angle. But precious little understanding. Today on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head, Making Sense of Virginia Tech.
Benjamin Franklin said that the tragedy of life is that we get old too soon and wise too late. There are thirty-two people from Virginia Tech who will not have the luxury now of becoming either older, or wiser. That opportunity was snatched away on April 16, 2007 by an obviously demented and troubled young man.
In Unforgiven, his bleak but wonderful film about morality and murder, Clint Eastwood says, “It’s a terrible thing to kill a man. You take away all he is, and all he’s ever going to be.” We’re reminded of that now.
How do we make sense of this? For make sense we must, because this horror that many in the U.S. are living through is a daily fact of life for millions around our troubled globe. And if we want to contribute to stopping this – and I believe we must contribute in some way to stopping this enormous humanly-caused death and destruction – we must begin to try to face the causes of it.
St. Augustine was courageous, I think, when he said that he had the same tendencies inside him of the worst criminals. I mention that not to suggest that we are the same as the Virginia Tech killer, but that we must begin to see our part in the greater panorama of human destruction on our planet. After all, people are suffering in Afghanistan and Baghdad and Somalia and Rwanda, as well as in Virginia.
Furthermore, Virginia is an anomaly. Those others are ongoing. I believe that it is this consciousness of our human destruction that we have an opportunity to become more conscious of now so that we can take big steps – not only to healing – but to resolving the problems in the human soul that cause us to create such a punishing society.