Wednesday, April 18, 2007

i just want to understand

When I was a younger, I was definitely a “why” kid. I had to know the ins and outs of everything and only then was my mind completely satisfied. As I got older and the world became more gray than black and white, my “why?” questions were being left unanswered. Of course, that never stopped me from asking them.

But it does frustrate me to no end that I can’t get some questions answered. I get so frustrated that I can’t think about anything else (I’m sure this is all part of the anxiety and will probably be a main topic in my therapy session today). I am consumed by the questions I just want answered because only then can I move on. Only then can I heal.

Instead, I sit here like I have the past two days asking the same question over and over. Why? Why did this happen? How did this happen? Was it preventable? What could’ve been done differently?

In my quest to answer all of my questions, I scoured the internet yesterday for every little bit of information I could find. And still I came up empty.

My co-workers are sympathetic. But some of them have gone on and move about as if Monday had been an ordinary day. I suppose I shouldn’t expect them to be so affected. But I can’t help but wonder if we have become so desensitized to violence that the event that took place on the campus of Virginia Tech on Monday is just another school shooting.

As people use this tragedy to justify their sides of the debate on gun control, I question just how much power guns have in preventing this tragedy. I just don’t think they do. If you take a look at the root of this problem, it’s not about whether or not the gunman had easy access to guns (for the record, apparently the gunman followed the law in acquiring the two guns he used, the state of Virginia has some of the weakest gun control laws in the country, and I see no need for "a well regulated militia" as our 2nd Amendment allows). This is about a guy who was troubled. This is about someone who was mentally disturbed. This is about the dozens of people who “had a bad feeling” about the gunman and didn’t do anything.

The gunman was a loner. He had no friends. Nobody really knew him. Some of his roommates didn’t even know his name. He didn’t speak when spoken to. He freaked out his classmates and professors with his morbid writings. Renown poet Nikki Giovanni even refused to teach him. None of this is normal. None of this is rational.

What if, at some point early on, someone had turned to the gunman and said, “Hey, are you ok?” What if one person could’ve made a difference? What if his parents had noticed? What if his sister had reached out?

It was probably already too late, when in 2005, his English professor had suggested he see a counselor. It was already too late when the cops were called when he told his roommate he wanted to kill himself. It was all just too late.

I’m not blaming anyone. I’m not blaming VT’s campus security. I’m not blaming the professors who passed the gunman off as a weird kid. I’m not blaming Montgomery County police for pursuing their “person of interest” while the gunman was on his way to Norris Hall. I’m not blaming the VT president for not locking down the university after the first shooting. I know that we all want to find someone to blame. But there is no blame.

From where I stand, I see a troubled kid exhibiting warning signs getting ignored or passed on as someone else’s problem. And if these are considered acceptable responses to troubled kids, then we haven’t learned anything from Columbine. If we don’t learn anything from Monday’s tragedy, then when will we learn? If we don’t, it will only be a matter of time until this happens again.

For anyone who is interested, the Virginia Tech Alumni Chapter in the Washington DC area will hold a public candlelight vigil TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m., in the Old Town Market Square at City Hall, 300 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Jesse and I will be there. I encourage you to go too.


lesser being of leisure said...

I have to "agree to disagree." Until he fired the first bullet, I have to believe that this could have been prevented.

What's the solution? Beyond better gun control (as in Europe), how about diverting some of the money out of the war trust and back into the Education Dept, so we can hire more counselors/creative writing instructors?

I do agree that it's really, really sad that we're back here again (we're obviously not learning anything at all).

DCWeddingPhotog said...

you two are in my thoughts again today. xoxo.