Monday, April 16, 2007

Death in America, an ode to siblings

It was a crisp, clear, bright autumn day, the kind of day you drink in with every essence of your being. I was sleepy, woken early by my parents for the drive from Nashville to Blacksburg. But I was excited. Not only were we attending a Virginia Tech football game, I was going to see my brother, a student at VT and horn player in the marching band. The campus was quiet, beautiful, almost idyllic, and I was overwhelmed by my first views of college life.

My brother attended Virginia Tech in the mid-80’s and graduated with a degree in nuclear engineering. His devotion to his alma mater has continued, as an alumnus and frequently attending football games. It isn’t surprising, the mood of the campus that day was intoxicating, and had I showed any inclination towards engineering, science or mathematics, I might have returned there for my own college education. Blacksburg itself was a village filled with charm and friendly people, hip hangouts and the best record store I had ever been in.

I am grieving the shootings at Virginia Tech, the shots that rang out across the peaceful campus, killing many, wounding others, and deafening the ears of college students that today learned one of the hardest lessons life can teach. I mourn the deaths with the families, friends, and teachers, and wish them all peace in the days and months ahead. But mostly I mourn for the siblings who, unlike me, will never again have the joy of seeing their brother or sister on campus after a sleepy drive through the fog laden mountains to that small college town that has lost so much today.


AntigoneSis said...

Agreed. Even though many would say that UVA's campus is much prettier, the Hokies' sensibility and comraderie always impressed me and made Blacksburg a very welcoming place for me. I hope that it can see them through the aftermath of this awful event.

Anonymous said...

"How many deaths will it take till we know... that too many people have died"

This is such a sad story but it's not the first time and it wont be the last while America has such a love affair with firearms.

J.Doe said...

It was not the guns that killed those students, it was the crazy lunatic shooter. Put the blame where it belongs and NOT on inanimate objects.

Flubberwinkle said...

The tragedy of the Virginia Tech massacre is beyond comprehension and my thoughts go out to all those who lost a loved one in such a violent, tragic way.

My 2 cents about gun control:
Crazy people are everywhere. e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. Anyone of us can snap like a twig as easily as the next person. Imagine if this crazy person did NOT have gun on him... would he have killed so many people with his bare hands or a dinner knife?

You can't control who is crazy enough to go on a shooting spree, but you can control the guns that lead to shooting sprees.

It might not solve all the problems of violence but it will hinder some.

Anonymous said...

Don't put the blame on the fact that it's so easy to lay your hands on a gun in the States? Just blame the person after he/she has done something really bad with it?

In that case, we'll just all carry on and not change a thing. I'll put my comments on the copy and paste for the next time something like this happens and let's all be honest... it will.

I'll obviously not question the current gun culture of the States. I'll just be ready to blame the next lunatic who goes on the rampage... whenever that may be.

CaliforniaKat said...

Like Mel, I watched CNN all night even though I knew I could turn it off and go to sleep. But since my days in NY and 9/11, I feel some comfort in collecting as much information as possible in some futile effort to understand.

It's too easy to blame guns or lack of stricter gun control; the Constitution, after all, guarantees the right to bear arms. But even with stricter gun control, people still find ways to get what they want.

I think it's also too easy to solely blame the gunman and use labels like 'madman' or 'crazy man.' There are a lot of elements that go into creating a human being...or destroying one. Society, health care, support systems (friends, family, counselors, clubs, comraderie), education, media, economics, politics and guidance. Sometimes people just want a sense of belonging, which is the reason gangs are so popular.

There are a lot of people who find a way to do something positive despite their circumstances, i.e. twins sometimes choose divergent paths (one healthy, one unhealthy) despite having the same abusive parents. Unfortunately, there are a few people who don't.

AntigoneSis said...

It’s an unfortunate mix in this country of an extremely powerful gun lobby and a voting population that blindly follows the agenda without questioning why. Mental illness in our world is a reality. The sad truth is that sometimes those suffering do not or cannot get the intense intervention which they require, and they find a way to turn their self-hatred into self-murder. Sometimes, because they are so ill, they inflict their own suffering on innocent others. This is a tremendous tragedy with far-reaching consequences and one that I have personally lived through (and will deal with for the rest of my life). The fact remains, though, that there is no good reason why, in our highly prosperous and developed nation, (that supposedly is the beacon for democracy and peace to the rest of the world) that this young man (or any of our country’s citizens or residents) should have been able to so easily purchase weapons and ammunition.

JennDZ said...

I agree with CaliforniaKat,

There are so many factors and gray areas when it comes to these terrible events. It is hard to know who or what to blame - guns and gun control is easy, society also. But nothing is balck and white and no one will ever know all the facts - they died with the gunman.

But the reality is, whether we have stricter gun control laws, people who want them to kill people will find a way to get them, all the gun control laws will be doing then, is creating larger numbers of people who cannot defend themselves.

When Roberto and I lived in Vermont there was no crime, because everyone is Vermont is armed to the teeth, so no one is going to mess with you.

I don't love the ideas of guns and I don't own one. But I do believe that people have a right to defend themselves and it is a constitutional right.

That being said, the things that people do with them are all to often linked with tragedy.

melusina said...

I tend to agree with CaliforniaKat myself. Personally, I have a really hard time balancing my extreme hatred for guns and the second amendment right to bear arms. But I can't defend the freedom of speech, freedom of privacy, etc., and not allow room for the second amendment. It is hypocritical. You can't just pick and choose the things that fit your agenda.

If the shooter hadn't been able to purchase a gun, he might have made a bomb - or several, and placed them around campus doing much more damage. We just can't determine all the "what ifs" in this situation. I hate that this whole thing has boiled down to pro and anti gun groups battling it out, because we are talking about people who lost their lives, and a perpetrator who was obviously so damaged in his own life he should have received real help a long time ago. This is the reality. Not gun control, or the lack thereof.

There are people out there who think that if students had the right to carry on campus that, not only would students choose to exercise that right (maybe a few would, but I highly doubt many would), but that one of them would have been able to stop the whole thing. My opinion is that guns in the hands of victims or hostages tends to only escalate a situation, unless you are specifically trained in highly stressed, multiple hostage armed combat. Just because you can dead eye a paper target 9 times out of 10 doesn't mean you can save yourself in a bad situation.

I do think it is too easy to buy a gun in America. Perhaps a program could be instituted where someone has to get a proper license (with training requirements, etc.) before buying a gun, because let's face it, if you need a gun in a hurry, you need it for no good reason.

America also has a very pervasive, very glamorous "gun culture" that to some extent glorifies killing in this manner. Sure, most of us know the difference, and honestly, it isn't the gun nuts I am worried about. It is the emotionally unstable people who can't identify the difference between right and wrong who can get too easily tempted by this culture.