Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Look Homeward

The sky was a bright blue this morning as Bacchus and I stepped out. There was a nip in the air but with no wind it was quite pleasant. The birds were singing and my favorite neighbors, the Alpacas and their goats were in their front pasture. My next door neighbor's flag was flying at half staff.

Thirty three faculty and students at Virginia Tech will never again experience such a lovely morning. It will be a long time before their families and friends will be able to appreciate one.

One hundred and seventy were killed in Iraq today.

I thought about parallel worlds. The tragedy at VPI has brought our nation to a standstill from shock and horror. We have our own version of suicide bombers. It grabs our attention when the fatalities are high. Mike Lopresti listed too many incidents in his column today. Twenty one eating lunch at a McDonalds in San Diego, Columbine, 7 at a church service in Milwaukee, 5 at a shopping mall in Salt Lake City, 12 in an Amish schoolhouse and on and on it went. The dates are spread out over a couple of years and I remember each and every incident that was listed.

Then I thought of the families of the dead in Iraq. Thirty one day, fifty the next, 100 another. Day in and day out. The perpetrators are not so different than those here. The disenfranchised. The outsiders unable to cope with the pressures of every day life. What a tragic and grim commentary. It is not a problem unique to us. It is global just as these latest victims represent the world - the popular Professor from India, the Professor who survived the holocaust, the shooter himself.

I listened to CNN's interview with the roommates of young Mr. Seng-Hui. The red flags were readily apparent. The young men, trying to be prudent, gave him the benefit of the doubt time and time again. Occasionally they would warn a friend. A Professor recognized his writings were that of a student far more disturbed than a "wannabe" script writer for the Sopranos. Yet she had no power to get him the help he so obviously needed.

All the soul searching going on now with our 24/7 breast beating about gun control will be to no avail. We have the laws. And those determined to commit such atrocities will find a way to carry them out. Next time it may be a bomb laden vest rather than handguns.

Perhaps it is time to look inward at our own. Seek out and repair our own societal shortcomings. Diminish the causes for the young to feel so disenfranchised.

We will never be totally successful. No society will be. But before we try to instill our way of life onto culture's who don't like it what's more want it, let's look within. The battle-cry for the "war on terror" has been to fight it "over there" rather than here.

Well, guess what. It is here - and now.

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