Monday, April 16, 2012

A Day to Remember

Today is one of those historic days, the kind you tell young people about when you're (ahem) older.

It's not a national day, but more local. Five years ago today a gunman went on a rampage at Virginia Tech. Thirty-two people died. My best friend's son was a student on campus and one of the people killed was close to him.

I was at home, working on the computer. I was still working for the newspaper then. Something came across in my email, I think, alerting me to the possibility of a shooting. At first it seemed like a routine incident, then the numbers began to climb. One person, two people ... more. Twenty-two. I remember that number; it took my breath. I switched on the local news to watch the coverage. I was scared for my friend's son. Terrified, actually. And then I remembered that my husband's best childhood friend was a professor there. And I was terrified for him, too.

Fortunately both were not physically hurt, though they were scarred nonetheless.

I did not go to Virginia Tech, but as a citizen of the community - of the nation - I was stunned by the atrocity. As upset and saddened as everyone else.

It is such a shame that we have learned very little in the ensuing years. Instead of seeking to help people so that such things do not happen again, we've only turned inward, toward our fears, instead of reaching out. We've become a closed-off congregation of individuals, not a society that helps one another. I find it a painful turn of events.

I desperately want to see us become a country where we reach out to one another, in love and understanding. A place of acceptance, where differences, whether physical or emotional, are not problems to be ashamed of but are embraced as evidence of our humanity. A place where we resolve our differences not with guns and violence but with hugs and sympathy.

A land of love. A land of kindness. A land of joy.

4 comments:

  1. A land of light and blinking at each other, yes. More roundtable solutions and restorative justice would set the tone that we want everyone in a better place.

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  2. a sad day...we were still in georgia but i remember....when ashlyn was in kindergarten (san diego) there was a school shooting at the high school up the street from her school. i remember dropping her off at school then running to the grocery store so i could pick up a few things and get some cash for her lunch money. while there i heard tons of sirens and was wondering what was going on. when i got to her school i went into the office and all the ladies inside were watching tv crying. i asked what had happened and they told me about the shooting at santana. of course the whole school was on lockdown at that point. something like 15 people were killed in that one. a boy that had been bullied finally lost it. it happens too often..

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  3. I was getting ready to purchase tickets to fly to Roanoke so our daughter could tour the school and decide if she should attend VT. I was stunned and our first reaction was to say, "No way!" After a day of reflection we decided that we shouldn't let fear guide us and that Tech would ramp up security and keep her safe. They did and she is. She had a wondeful experience there and a great education. She called and asked about what was going on there today. I told her it looks like they are healing and trying to move on a bit by holding classes on this day for the first time.

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  4. You're right, even though we don't attend VT, it's part of our community. We go there often for other functions (4H, seminars, etc.) and it's a beautiful campus.
    Sadly, people who are mentally ill cannot sit down at a table and reason out solutions to their problems. I've known several people who are manic/depressive, schizophrenic and suicidal. There is no reasoning with them. Even love and the desire to help them get well isn't enough. One day, they snap and do the unthinkable...Similar to terrorism, its unpredictability is what makes us feel fearful and helpless.

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