The killings at Virginia Tech are horrifying and saddening. And immediately the questions: How could someone do this? Why do such things happen? Today at least as many innocent people will be killed in Iraq, in Darfur, yet those places are far away (if you are reading this in America), and those conflicts seem not quite as completely senseless–except all murder is equally senseless and is equally . . . evil? Sad? Mad? I tend to believe mad, because the only way I can understand murderers is as severely mentally ill–as never having developed or as having lost the understanding that other people are real.
There is always the desire to jump to fix-it, make-it-better, make-sure-it-doesn’t-happen-to-us-or-those-we-love mode, by mounting an argument for stricter gun control, or an argument for everyone to carry concealed weapons for self-protection; by blaming the American culture of violence, or by pointing out that violence overall is actually down despite this latest horror.
Perhaps when we learn more about the killer there can be actions to take to decrease easy gun access or increase mental-health care. But today all we can do is comfort the living and hold on more tightly to each other and our ideal: “May the humanity that is within every person be held more and more precious, and regarded with ever-deepening reverence.” And please, soon?
This Sunday after platform we will hold a special forum for those who would like to share their thoughts and feelings about this tragedy. If you have readings or other materials that help you in painful and confusing times, please bring those to share as well.