FEATURE

An American Viewpoint:

How Do You Process?

How to you even begin to process what happened at Virginia Tech?

It's one of those horrific incidences that simply doesn't compute. A real-life Terminator strolls through a building like the movie Terminator walked through the LA police building, an invincible death dealer, lining people up against the wall and shooting them down with all the stress and drama of an afternoon plinking in front of a prairie dog town.

Except that in real-life, the Terminator isn't a late 21st Century cyborg...he's a 20-something college student with clinical depression and a crappy love life. He's not made of some magic metal that deflects bullets, with targeting computers and laser search-and-destroy machinery....he's a kid made of flesh and blood clothed in sweatshirt and jeans.

I don't have any answers for you. And maybe today isn't a day for answers, but a day for mourning the dead. And maybe a day for questions.

If monsters walk among us, do we create them?

Is a culture without shame, without responsibility, without honor, without consequences the place where we want to raise our children or where we want our parents to see their final days?

Do cameras, metal detectors, security guards, "gun-free zones," police sweeps, expanded government regulations make us safe or do they all simply blind us to the dangers that lurk of the darkness in men's hearts?

Are our lives so small and so worthless even to ourselves that we have decided we are not worth defending; that we can just "outsource" our protection to a university or a police department or a government?

Do we, can we, stand up?

I will not lie to you...the fight is upon us, and it will be the fight of our lives. I unconditionally believe in the inherent correctness, the necessity, of our cause. Read the comments of Virginia Tech spokeman Larry Hincker when House Bill 1572, the Virginia bill which would have allowed Virginia college students to have their legal concealed carry guns on campus failed, "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus." Then read the words of Bradford Wiles, a graduate student at Virginia Tech:

I would also like to point out that when I mentioned to a professor that I would feel safer with my gun, this is what she said to me, "I would feel safer if you had your gun."

I am qualified and capable of carrying a concealed handgun and urge you to work with me to allow my most basic right of self-defense, and eliminate my entrusting my safety and the safety of my classmates to the government.

The harsh reality is that the world is not a safe place, nor can it be rendered safe. When we choose "feeling safe" over accepting responsibility for our own safety, we step onto a path that is as old as human civilization itself, a path that is guaranteed guaranteed! to lead to disaster. Not "maybe;" not "sometime;" but always.

Liviu Librescu
We are going to have to stand you, me, all of us. And we are going to have to look the hard questions in the eyes.

But today we mourn the dead...and celebrate the life of a hero, Professor Liviu Librescu, the 76-year-old Holocaust survivor who died on Holocaust Remembrance Day saving his students. Professor Librescu blocked the doorway and eventually threw himself in front of the shooter, allowing his students to get away. I don't presume to know what was in the professor's mind in those moments, but I can't help believing that he knew what was outside his door, because he had heard that knocking before. And in that moment he knew he had to stand.

Can we do less?

---Michael Bane

The Shooting Wire Service