Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We've Discovered Insanity
And It Knocked On Our Front Door!

Benjamin Franklin once said, "Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame".

Normally I have a witty commentary or story about some happening in the news of today. But yesterday wasn’t really a “normal” day for anything witty. In fact, yesterday was a sad commentary on where we’ve come from and where we’re going to. The news was full of stories (or maybe I should call it rehashed speculation) about the incident and chain of events that happened at Virginia Tech. It was on every news media outlet I saw. And since the first report I saw at 11 AM, to the last report I saw at 10 PM, there wasn’t much new to tell.

I got tired of watching the coverage. News outlets expanded their “nightly news” to cover the ever growing (???) story. Who did it? Why’d he do it? What do we know about people that do this type of thing? Everybody had a comment on it…even Dr. Phil. Now there we go. When there is a national tradgedy, the first person I’m going to turn to is Dr. Phil. He was on Larry King Live talking about the psychology of a psychopath. Like there is anything you can say about this idiot who took 32 innocent lives. Other than to say that he should of used the first bullet on himself, of course.

Parents, researchers and teachers have spent many years and countless amounts of money trying to understand why people act the way they do. They have done numerous studies and observations. Simply looking for the answer to why people are bringing guns to schools, universities and malls and shooting innocent people. In the past few months there have been four school shootings, three of which were in a one-week time span. The shootings were in four different states, Vermont, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

I went to the Collegiate Times, the college newspaper of Virginia Tech. That's where the banner picture for this blog entry came from. I wanted to read what the kids there, the people who actually had to live through this mess, the people who’s lives will never be the same, had to say.

Here is a brief copy of the story published on the Virginia Tech Collegiate Times website.
In a series of press conferences held last night at The Inn at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum and University Spokesperson Larry Hincker confirmed a preliminary number of 15 injured along with the 32 fatalities by a gunman on campus in addition to his suicide.

There is now an update on the identification of the victims. Police have confirmed a preliminary identity of the shooter that will not be released at this time. The police have recovered two weapons. The ATF is still investigating the ballistics from the first homicide, but no specific information has been released.
After the multiple shootings that took place on campus, many Virginia Tech students have been left feeling shocked and saddened. Their comments show their pain, shock and grief.
"I was in my dorm room this morning when I found out what was going on," said junior Sam Leake, who lives in West Amber Johnston, "This is just a really horrific incident, I always thought Virginia Tech was a safe school."
After such a horrific incident many Virginia Tech students are expressing their absolute shock and disbelief in regards to this situation.
"I just can't believe this happened," one student said, "I mean a lot of people have been calling and e-mailing, but I think it will take time to sink in."
Despite those feelings of shock and frustration, many Virginia Tech students are also expressing feelings that the Virginia Tech community will come together and find strength within one another.
"I think this definitely has the potential to bring the community together," a student said. "I intend to go to Cassel tomorrow to show my support for all of those people that have been impacted by this shooting."
This is more than a story about an idiot who shot innocent people. We need to care less about the who's, what's and why's and extend our hearts and our help to those kids and their families. They are the ones who have to grieve over what has happened to their friends and teachers who were slaughtered in a fit of idiotic rage. And many of them have begun the healing process. The school has provided counselors and will be having a memorial service today in honor of those who gave their lives in such a horrible way.

How do you recover from something like this? Well, it takes time. It takes understanding. You’ve got to be able to cry. To get mad. To vent your anger. I hope that these kids don’t suffer from the “what could I have done” syndrome. There is nothing anybody could have done. This was the act of one selfish individual and nobody could do anything to change that. It was the gunman’s decision to do what he did and neither you or I could have stopped him.

Life today is definitely different from the life of yesterday. We've experienced so much in our lives that sometimes our emotions have no way of knowing the difference between what is right and wrong. Some people begin to find that it is hard to distinguish between reality and fiction. Today's kids are living with the fear of the next day at school, they might get shot. There are a few simple things parents, schools, and kids themselves can make schools safer. Parents have first responsibility to talk to their kids about recent events and ask questions about their concerns. They need to reassure their children schools are a safe place.

People can help their fellow man. They should encourage each other to tell a teacher, parent, authority, anyone if they hear of weapons or possible threats. People should look for early warning signs, dramatic drop in grades in school-aged kids, behavior changes (failure to participate, increased absences, lack of ambition, etc.)

These types of shootings can be prevented and reduced. We just have to learn to take the time to look for signs. We need to begin to change our attitudes about many things and realize people are more helpless now than ever before. There will be more good people whose minds give way under the terrible artificial and contrived burdens they are forced to bear and the terrible strains they are under just living in today's society.

We can prevent the number of people who become lost. We can prevent so many good people from becoming bad people by just taking the time to care. Taking the time to talk to someone and find out what they are thinking, what they feel, and why they feel the way they do.

Finding that time is often a chore in our hectic lives, but it needs to become a priority or America will no longer be what it should be: safe.