A time of mourning

first_imgWhy didn’t they send out text messages warning all students of the danger? Why did they not spot the warning signs? Do we need stricter gun-control laws? Do we need tighter immigration policies? What does this say about American culture at large, or the Korean-American subculture, in particular, from which Cho Seung-Hui came? IT used to be that, following a tragedy like the one that befell Virginia Tech on Monday, we would get a quiet period of mourning – at least a few days or so – before the inevitable second-guessing, finger-pointing and politicization would take place. That, alas, is no longer the case. Before we even knew the name of Cho Seung-Hui – who killed 32 students and faculty at the college before turning his gun on himself – let alone his motives, we were already demanding to know how this massacre could have been prevented, and why it wasn’t. We were already gearing up for recriminations and the same old political fights. The questions came fast and furious: Why didn’t campus officials call off classes after the first shooting? Chalk it up the 24-7 news cycle, instant expertise of everyone with a computer or cell phone, a politically fractured culture, or the belief that ours can somehow be a danger-free world. Whatever the explanation, we seem more interested in arguing than in mourning – and that’s just unhealthy. It’s unhealthy because the 32 victims of this terrible tragedy deserve our respect, which includes not being made vehicles for partisans or agendas. It’s unhealthy because tragedy ought to be a call for unity, not an excuse for further division. And it’s unhealthy because, even though we can be better prepared for events like these, nothing we can do will ever make them disappear. Ours is a free society in which people can, and will, abuse their freedom horrifically. This is especially so on a college campus, which, by its very nature, should be open, easily accessible and hard to contain. We could turn our campuses – or, for that matter, our communities – into citadels, but would it really be worth it? We still wouldn’t be immune to the depredations of the evil, the deranged or the desperate, and we’d forfeit much of our freedom in the process. The notion of absolute security that drives much of the discussion about what happened at Virginia Tech is a myth. It’s understandable, given the sense of powerlessness and frustration that follows such tragedies, but it’s a myth nonetheless. Yes, better safeguards, better laws, and better responses can and should to be developed to minimize the dangers. But let us not delude ourselves about how safe we can really make the world. And in our haste to right what’s wrong, let’s not neglect to mourn the victims, to celebrate the heroes, to comfort the aggrieved, and to catch our collective breath at a moment of unspeakable pain. Let’s remember that if even a vibrant campus in a peaceful college town can be the site of tragedy, so can any place else. Every day can be our last, which is why no day should ever be taken for granted.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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