The sad rains of a cold April morning chill the Virginia air with a soundless, icy weeping.
Yesterday, needless deaths in the heart of Appalachia numbed a town and a people who undeservingly find themselves in the dark abyss where fate has flung them. The echo from the pit into which a melting Blacksburg has fallen resounds with dying voices screaming, “Why?”
As a nation we cry with them, and tomorrow, or the next day, or the next week, we move on. Half- staff flags will be raised and, as the poet at today’s service intoned, even the Hokies will prevail. Let’s go Hokies.
But who will answer for the killed? Who will answer for the killer?
Let’s go, Hokies.
The fat line of fire goes through Columbine, of course, and the horrors before and since, and stretches back to Austin in 1966.
But is that where it started? According to a Washington Post article, historians mark the beginning of what they classify as “spree killing” at Wounded Knee, in 1890.
That doesn’t include other Indian massacres, or mob lynchings or KKK killings, all committed with the knowledge or support of local government authorities.
So many people killed. So many times an unconcerned society has turned away, and people who say they care about justice and rights sigh and disappear behind the glowing cloud of their TVs.
But it doesn’t really matter when it started. What matters is, when will it end?
They found a receipt for a gun in Cho’s backpack, perhaps the same bag where he put his laptop, pens, notebooks and iPod. What was it like, I wonder, for him to feel the butt of a pistol when he reached in to where his computer’s mouse usually was? Wasn’t that enough to stop him? What if he would have reached in for a gun and pulled out the mouse? Click. You’re dead. Scroll to rotate the round. Click.
We kill what bothers us. Cockroaches, mosquitos, BlacksChineseMexicansArabsJewsArmeniansIrishCommiesCatholicsMormons. We don’t want them around, so we kill them. You can kill anybody you want to, if your willing to face the consequences, if there are any. The NRA says the Constitution guarantees it.
And murderers. We kill them too. Life is cheap, at least, your life is, if you kill someone. And yes, it is hard not to be cynical when you’re American and know that your neighbor or your classmate or your twelve-year-old could shoot you. Life is cheap.
Tell me I am wrong. Prove to me that life is valuable. What’s that you say? People are life? We can’t replace them? Yes, but we can always sell someone another gun.
PS. The Peace Alliance is using this to show how important a Department of Peace would be to this country. Please visit them, if you don’t know about them. Kucinich is a big supporter and Marianne Williamson is one of the principals.
PPS. For those of you who haven’t seen it, John and Elizabeth Edwards sent a heartfelt letter regarding Monday’s tragic events to their supporters. It’s currently on the splash page of his website, but in case they take it down, here it is:
“We are simply heartbroken by the deaths and injuries suffered at Virginia Tech. We know what an unspeakable, life-changing moment this is for these families and how, in this moment, it is hard to feel anything but overwhelming grief, much less the love and support around you. But the love and support is there. We pray that these families, these students, and the entire Virginia Tech community know that they are being embraced by a nation. There is a Methodist hymn that gave us solace in such a moment as this, and we repeat its final verse here, in hopes it will help these families, as it helped us:
“In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing, in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
“Our dearest wish is that this day could start again, with the promise of these young people alive. Knowing that cannot be, our prayer is for God’s grace and whatever measure of peace can be reached on this terrible day.
John and Elizabeth Edwards”