Friday, April 20, 2007

It’s taken me a while to dig out the root of my bitterness surrounding the Virginia Tech shootings and the emotional aftermath. Of course, I am moved to the defensive by my fear that white America will somehow try to make an example of this Korean immigrant who, ironically enough, is the child of dry cleaners. And, of course, I am enraged by Christians and other Jesus-Loving church goers’ inevitable and unchallenged claim for the moral high ground as counselors and caretakers of those left in the aftermath. Not that I’m against the idea of them helping. I just get pissed when no one talks about atheists bringing pot roasts over or rabbis leading prayers for those who’ve passed, or Buddhists mourning the loss of all life, including young Mr. Cho.

What really frustrates me is they way everyone, from the mourning friends and family to the story-hungry media, search for a meaning. I know I can’t be the first person to have realized this, but it seems to me that society is going through some of the stages of grief together, as a unit. And

Subsequently we are left with a nation of newscasters and reporters, and the entire investigative force of Virginia, dedicated to searching out the reason why Cho Seung-Hui acted out so violently. Apparently, everyone else in the United States is blinded by grief, but that’s okay. I’m here to tell you all why something like this happened to so many innocent people. Because Cho was unstable and freaked out in a violent way against other people. That’s it. It wasn’t that there was too much pressure to perform at school. It wasn’t because he listened to Marilyn Manson or played Grand Theft Auto (neither of which I believe he did, but you know, those are the usually suspects). We couldn’t have caught him early with our over reacting to and alienating hundreds of other creative, individualistic, and probably depressive young people. The fact of the matter is that sometimes some one just snaps and there’s not much we can do to control it, prevent it, or explain it.

In nature a single animal will occasionally freak out and act out against its community. Zoologists write it off as a variation of normal and move on. Humans, especially humans so obsessed with control they ear pieces for their cell phones lest they spend 10 minutes incommunicado while driving to the store, have a difficult time understanding how that can happen in our carefully manicured society. After all the time, money, and energy the media has spent socializing these young people, how dare they react to normal stimuli in an abnormal way?
This is not to say that what happened at Virginia Tech was not a horrible tragedy. And I do not mean to make light of the suffering of those close to the victims. I just find it interesting that the media and the public can’t seem to accept that sometimes sick people make plans and act them out, and it turns out that there was nothing we could do about it. You can’t prevent a disturbed person from taking his or her dementia out on his or her peers any more than you can prevent a hurricane or earthquake from decimating our infrastructure. All you can do is be prepared for the tragedies you can foresee and live your life to the best of your ability while it’s still yours.

The world will probably never know why Cho Seung-Hui felt so ostracized and so alienated from his society that he felt he had to shoot and kill his classmates and then himself. We can just move on, try to make the most of our days, and use this as a reminder that there are plenty of people out there who could probably use a smile, and be grateful that our lives aren’t so depressing that we’re hoarding hallow point bullets.

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