Death Visits Blacksburg

The shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday were tragic and we must pray for the victims and their families. Today the blogs and editorial pages are filed with reaction, blame and conclusions. I hesitate to say anything when the dead are not even buried yet. That is not stopping our 24-hour news media from providing endless coverage, however, so I will do likewise.

First point: I’ve noticed that the coverage varies on whether the number of deaths is 32 or 33. The difference is whether you include the shooter, who apparently committed suicide. Some editors seem to feel the killer should not be included in the total number of dead.

This seems strange to me. He was, according to initial reports, a deeply troubled person living away from home and family. He was arguably a "victim" as well. Those who loved him are now doubly tormented: grief at their own loss, and guilt for the loss of others. They need our prayers and support just as much as the other families.

Second point: I am already tired of hearing Virginia Tech students called "children" and “kids.” They are adults. That's why we let them drink all night, casually sleep with each other, and then kill any babies they happen to conceive. Having given them those privileges, it is schizophrenic for us to now talk about the students like they are emotionally helpless toddlers.

People got shot. People died. Without minimizing anyone’s pain, soldiers of these students’ age and younger deal with this sort of thing every day in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places.

Soldiers face another challenge, too: they have to shoot back. Then they must look at what they did to other humans. They don't get to leave the world early like the shooter yesterday did. They see the bodies every night in their dreams, for the rest of their lives. I feel sure the students of Virginia Tech will get far more emotional support and professional help than our combat veterans do.

Today’s college students blithely let their less-advantaged peers do the fighting overseas while they stay home to party. Their parents like it that way. Yesterday, some of these students got a taste of what they're missing. Let’s hope they learn from it.

Third point: This event was not the result of poor gun control, lax immigration, video games, cultural insensitivity, or lazy campus police. We do not yet and may never know the killer’s exact motivations. There are plenty of lonely, troubled people with access to guns who don’t go crazy and shoot others. Some unique confluence of factors drove this one over the edge. Evil does exist, and in this fallen world it will find a way to make its presence known no matter what we do.

Fourth point: Large campuses like Virginia Tech are almost impossible to secure from a such a determined person. I feel sure the police reacted as quickly and forcefully as they could. Parents are already calling for the university president and police chief to step down. There will be plenty of opportunity for everyone to consider what they could have done differently. Now is not the time to point fingers.

Fifth point: People ask “Where was God?” in all this. He was, and is, the same place as always: in control. Why does God let bad things happen? I don’t know. My choice is to accept in faith that He will ultimately make all things work together for good, and that in the fullness of time I will come to understand it. So will we all.

"For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

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