The least we could do

I do care. I really do. But I haven’t seen anyone else say this yet – so I’m stepping on my liberal soap box and saying it myself. Don’t worry – I’ll get off soon.

The shootings at Virginia Tech are horrible. 33 people died, and most of them were young – bright students searching for their place in the world. It’s a horrible tragedy, to say the least.

I watched news of Columbine nearly eight years ago while sitting in my dorm commons at St. Cloud State University. I wondered then what would happen if this wasn’t in a high school, but in a college, where the atmosphere is so different. I wondered if something like this could happen in a place where people are supposed to grow up and create their place in the world, not be pigeonholed into a class because truancy officers force them to.

Well, now we know. It is possible. And it’s horrible. Many are lamenting the loss of so many young lives in such a cold-hearted, brutal murder spree.

With that said, I’m also very confused.

The media response to this is exactly what we’d expect – fevered, maudlin and intense. Special graphics. Swooping intro videos. A deep look into anything that sounds remotely sinister. I’d hate to think that if I killed someone, that they’d look through my bookshelves and find the most violent book I’ve ever read and use that as proof of my craziness.

That’s not what I’m confused about – I expected all of that to happen. We want to know what’s going on, especially with something so close – something that happened right in our backyard.

But it bears noticing two things.

First, over 3,300 Americans have died in the Iraq War in a little more than four years. These people are roughly the same age as those killed at Virginia Tech. Of course the Virginia Tech murders are ghastly and should be mentioned as much as possible. But so should these deaths in Iraq. Unfortunately, they aren’t. We’re numb to it now. The numbers crawl to slowly to be noticed. People have been desensitized to what is truly happening over there. And it takes a mass killing like yesterday’s college massacre to hit the front pages.

There will be sweeping changes in security throughout Virginia Tech campus affairs. New procedures will be tried and people will be held responsible.

If only the 3,300 dead in Iraq would cause some sort of sweeping change throughout our war policy.

Second, Virginia Tech should be happy there wasn’t a flood. George Bush has already made it a point to visit the school and console with the grief-stricken survivors. That’s good. It’s a noble thing to do.

It took him four days to simply fly over New Orleans after Katrina.

Let’s all mourn the loss of innocent life. It’s the least we can do as fellow countrymen and women. But let’s also not lose track of the rest of the world – let’s keep everything in perspective, allow the survivors to slowly piece their lives back together and attempt to get on with their lives without making this entire incident into some kind of three-week soap opera.

Especially, let’s take time to think about everything else that’s happening in the world, from Nigeria to Iraq, Virginia to Ireland, and think about what we could do to help curb senseless killing all over this Earth.

It’s also the least we could do.

This was lovingly handwritten on April 17th, 2007