Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Virginia Tech Tragedy

The campus of Virginia Tech has been shaken to it's foundations with the murder of at least 33 of our best and brightest from among the school's students and faculty and we are left aghast at why another student would snap the way he did and how someone could be filled with so much hate and anger. Most people lead fairly normal lives with their share of personal heartache and tragedy but we don't often enounter violence to this degree in our personal experience. We reel in the thought of what the V.T. community is going through, feeling a little of what they are feeling because we know that it happens every hour of every day to someone somewhere, not only here in America but also in Africa, Asia and in the Middle East on a much larger scale. Do we also need to be reminded as well about the way animals are treated in our meat processing plants and in the wild?

Decent people everywhere are impacted by those that hate. It's a darkness that settles like a shroud over all we do yet we go on with life doing our best to keep it from consciously impacting our lives. What we don't fully realize however, is that we are inundated and bombarded by images of murder whenever we turn on the television and thus have become mostly desensitized to it to the point of obsession. So why do we continue to feed on violence? After all, if people didn't tolerate these programs, they would get cancelled one after the other until there were but a few or none remaining. News coverage is another way we get an injection of numbing violence but instead of getting a two-hour tale we get it in small enough doses so that it becomes difficult to empathize with the victims or to question why governments are so quick to go to war. If we were able to spend two hours getting up and personal with war's impact on its victims, I believe we would respond in an altogether different manner and become truly sickened and revolted by the inhumanity of individuals, militant groups and armies toward innocents in the red zones of conflict. Unfortunately we only get the sanitized version in five minute increments and don't experience the horror of the many bombings and killings that occur while the horrifying shootings at Virginia Tech will be detailed and drawn out in the news for many months to come.

We are what we attend to and though our encounters with death are mostly felt vicariously, we continue to immerse our thoughts in negativity as entertainment and because of it are likely not to care too much about what happens to others in different regions of the world facing death on a routine basis. Seeking peace and the healing of the planet comes down to conscious individual choices we must make if we really want compassion and reconciliation to thrive. There are so many ways to make changes in how we spend our free time but we must first desire to understand just a little of what victims of violence have to endure and take part in some of the pain that they feel, that war is more than a passing headline or a TV drama. Thankfully we have the freedom to watch what we want, and are able to make choices in what we want to devote our leisure time to. I myself don't mind watching a war film or action movie once in awhile, but it's really hard to ignore how many really violent shows are on every day. Avoiding them may not be a cool thing to do in today's culture, but it is nevertheless necessary, I believe, if our kids are going to inherit a humane world. I think we're getting a loud and clear message from the Virginia campus shootings that things have gone very wrong and that tragedies such as this will continue to increase until we begin to internalize that 24/7 violence is not a culturally adaptive or acceptable form of diversion. I believe there's a need for an immediate awakening of the kind that turns us around 180 degrees and it needs to spread across the boundaries of nations and cultures like a great wave. It is possible for humanity to redirect its orientation from violence to peace because real satisfaction in life comes the pursuit of love and justice for others as well as in nurturing it in our own hearts which is the place where miracles are born and are multiplied.

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