Monday, April 23, 2007

Who do you know, who knows you?

One of the most controversial things about the VA Tech shootings is the showing of the incoherent rantings of the shooter, and the luridly disturbing pictures that he posed for.

A lot of people say that this information should have been suppressed. I am one that believes that no matter how unpleasant, it needs to be seen.

Every time one of these events occurs, there is always a "post mortem" in which the case is dissected, and all aspects of the shooters life is looked into. The value in this might be that there would be recognition of a young man (or woman) who might be in your circle who might be on the same tragic trajectory. Certainly Criminologists (amateur and professional) learn much from each of these unfortunate events.

All of the cases are different, but all are disturbingly similar. Often the most glaring similarities is that the shooter is a "loner" or "outcast" or had trouble "fitting in".

Another thing that has been brought to the forefront is that as a society, the US has generally lost the sense of community. We don't belong to communities in large numbers (i.e. membership in a parish, church, synagogue or mosque), or clubs or organizations. More and more, we tend to isolate ourselves from our neighbors (I know people who don't even know their neighbors, and have lived next to them for years). It was said by the community in which Cho lived that they were "ghosts" - nobody knew them.

That has got to mean something doesn't it?

Mother Theresa said that Americans were rich in material wealth, but generally were poor in spirit - this is sometimes the most dangerous kind of poverty isn't it? Because it's a poverty that is carried around by the person every day, and cannot be seen.

So, who do you know? Who is in your circle(s) that might be on this lonely hateful trajectory? The VA Tech shooter cannot be helped, and given what I've seen of him, I'm not convinced that anything might have changed this terrible path. But what about that kid on your little league team who shows disturbing signs. What about the kid in your youth group? What about your next door neighbor's kid? What about your own child? Sometimes a powerful adult role model can change a life (other times, unfortunately, it cannot).

We need to look at ways of getting community back before it's too late.

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