April 18, 2007

What is it about our modern society that can’t stand to dwell on anything negative for more than a news cycle? What are we so afraid of? An example: when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, the city of Boston, and all of Red Sox Nation indeed, sipped a long, slow, draft of exultation, drinking in the accomplishment (both figuratively and otherwise) for days, even weeks, on end after Keith Foulke tossed that ground ball to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. There were parades, celebrations, parties, and all sorts of fun and frolic throughout that fall and winter. It seemed the celebration would never end.

Fast forward to yesterday’s massacre at Virginia Tech. The bodies of the students who were killed had barely had time to cool before university president Charles Steger released a statement saying, “”We’re making plans for a convocation tomorrow at noon in Cassell Coliseum for the university to come together to begin the healing process from this terrible tragedy.”

This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Far be it from me to bring politics into such a horrific turn of events, one that Americans should not simply sweep under the rug to begin the healing process and moving on. But there is blood in the hallways and classrooms of Virginia Tech’s Norris Hall and West Ambler Johnston dormitory – the blood of young men and women who did nothing to deserve such a horrible fate other than simply live their lives as college students and be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And their blood, and their lives, deserve more than a good washing down of the walls and floors and some dopey convocation where college administrators, counselors and psychologists eulogize those who died and pat the survivors on the shoulder in empathy, saying it’s all going to be OK.

Because it’s not. Not the students. Not the university. Not this country.

First of all, the university has blood on their hands. When parents send their young sons and daughters off to college, there should be some satisfaction that the school has in place procedures and personnel to do whatever they can to ensure the safety of their student population. Now, if Billy dies after drinking two fifths of vodka in some frat house hazing stunt, or if Suzie gets pregnant after getting drunk and passing out while on spring break, that’s a whole ‘nuther thing entirely. But when you’re on college grounds on a lazy Monday morning and there’s shooting and killing taking place in a 2-hour timeframe in two separate locations resulting in the deaths of almost three dozen students, something is amiss, and it isn’t just with the bastard that did the shooting.

So, President Steger, excuse me if I see your jumping into this “healing process” as just a little bit premature and not more than a little bit self-serving.

Dennis Prager, a syndicated radio talk-show host has published a column on Townhall.com entitled “You’re Dead; I’m Healing”, and his column is absolutely spot on. This particular excerpt really cuts to the chase:

It is foolish because one does not speak about healing the same day (or week or perhaps even month) that one is traumatized — especially by evil. One must be allowed time for anger and grief. To speak of healing and “closure” before one goes through those other emotions is to speak not of healing but of suppression.

Not to allow people time to experience their natural, and noble, instincts to feel rage and grief actually deprives them of the ability to heal in the long run. After all, if there is no rage and grief, what is there to heal from?

Personally, I don’t want to heal now. I want to feel rage at the monster who slaughtered all those young innocent people at Virginia Tech. And I want to grieve over those innocents’ deaths.

This whole notion of instant healing (like its twin, instant forgiveness) is also morally wrong.

First, it is narcissistic. It focuses on me and my pain, not on the murderer and the murdered.

Second, it is almost obscene to talk of our healing when the bodies of the murdered are still lying in their blood on the very spot they were slaughtered. Our entire focus of attention must be on them and on the unspeakable suffering of their loved ones, not on the pain of the student body and the Virginia Tech “community.”

This notion of instant healing and preoccupation with the feelings of the peripherally involved, as opposed to the feelings of the directly hurt and anger over the evil committed, are functions of the psychotherapeutic culture in which we live.

What seems to be missing in all of the news coverage is the sheer magnitude of evil involved in the atrocity that was committed. This is no mere unfortunate interruption of a university’s collegiate life – this was, and remains, a large-scale interruption of the lives of nearly three dozen young men and women – men and woman about to be buried in the ground and cremated into ashes placed into plastic bags long before their time. And that’s only (if “only” is the proper word here) those who were killed – there are men and women gravely and slightly wounded, and hundreds of students whose lives will be affected psychologically over this. This was no tragedy, it was a massacre, and to call it otherwise, to try and pass it off as something to get over, get by, or get beyond through a return to “business as usual” is ludicrous.

What should the university do? What should we as a nation do? First of all, start by calling a spade a spade and identifying what went wrong. Close the university for at least a semester, if not the rest of the school year. Allow the students to get away, return to the security of their homes and loved ones and work on the grieving process in their own individual ways. The university itself has a lot of soul-searching and self-examination to do as far as making it safe for when the students return. As a nation, we need to look inward, at ourselves, and try and make some sense as to not just why things like this happen, but why we’re in such denial that we feel we need to get on with our lives so quickly. There should be days of mourning, churches should have services, funerals should be televised, the students who died have their stories told, and families should have time together to share their feelings about this experience with their children. It is a time for our nation to come together against the forces of evil that want us to become even more immune and anesthetized to the evil that lurks around us.

And there’s something else weird at work here. I’ll leave it to Mr. Prager for the last word that sums up just about everything I’m feeling today:

Why is the Virginia Tech murderer always referred to as the “gunman” and not the “murderer”? Had he stabbed a dozen students to death, would he be the “knifeman”?

And why is it always referred to as a “tragedy”? Virginia Tech wasn’t hit by a cyclone. That would be a tragedy. This was evil. Call it that.

The only way something good comes out of this is if what happened at Virginia Tech causes this nation to take a cold, hard look at what we’ve become as a society and a culture, and ask why those so close to the blood, the death, and the wounded should be so quick to have us start dialoging our way through the grieving process when there are far more important questions to discuss first.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:14 | Comments (0)
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