Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wish list for the world

My first attempt to avoid commenting on the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech was an attempt at humor. Yesterday's entry.

And this was not because I haven't thought about it or cared, not because I don't realize or feel the immensity of it - but because the event ate hope and shat out fear, grief and anger. I didn't want to add to it and I still don't.

So this entry is not for opinions, although, like everyone else, I have them. This is a wish list...

Let us pray if that is our inclination or remember the victims and their families - including the shooter and his family, with as much understanding as we can muster. Sadly, victims or villain - it could have been any of us. I recall here the mantra of Buddhist, Bo Lozoff, author of We are all doing time, which is "Anything that can happen to a human being can happen to me."

Let's not use it as an excuse to descend to fear, hate and paranoia. Let's not look with suspicion on every loner who ever displayed signs of anger or alienation. Let's not lock our hearts and minds and see the world as ugly beyond hope. Let's not pretend that dwelling on this, talking about it and using it as a excuse to descend verbally and emotionally to the same level of vigilante "justice" as the killer used is a helpful thing in any way. If we do, then another kind of terrorism wins. Again.

Let us realize that if we want a better world, to paraphrase Gandhi, we must be a better world. If there is something concrete to be done - do it. If not, let us not pretend that letting fear and anger eat our hearts and courage away in any way contributes to a solution.

Let us understand that fear, hate and rage poison. Period. And that all hate and rage is based in fear.

Let us feel our grief and let it pass through. Let us be kinder to the next person we see, whoever they are, however small the opportunity. Let us drop our everlasting opinions for just a moment, and realize that the world without reflects everyone of us.

I have refused to discuss this issue all day - and it amazes me how people react. There is a kind of tribal pressure to take some kind of radical stand. To react - in the ways I've described above or to defend not reacting. I hope we don't fall for the pressure.

May they all rest in peace. May we all try our best to live in peace, to be decent to one another.


Kate said...

The odd thing is with events like Virginia is that people are so desperate to ascribe meaning to it, to draw lessons from it. But what if it was totally meaningless and there are no lessons to be drawn? We're compelled to find meaning in it, or else the deaths of those students aren't just tragic, they're terrible. We need an explanation because it makes us feel better.

I notice too how everyone is so quick to project their own prejudices onto the vacuum of information surrounding such an incident. All of a sudden there's a clamour of disgruntled individuals blaming video-games, guns, campus security and our 'degenerate society' at large. I often wonder if we just accepted sometimes that 'shit happens', that it's meaningless and there are no lessons to be learned, would we still find ourselves in the position we are in now? That is to say that we spend so much time criticising our society, and being ashamed of our consumer driven lives and so-called 'Western decadence' is it any wonder that some people have decided to take action against it? We spend so much time telling the world how bad society is that the world is beginning to believe it. I ask myself if this has anything to do with the spate of anit-Western terrorism we're currently experiencing?

I guarantee you people will be screaming once more for tighter gun laws and better campus security - for all the good it will do. We as a society have gone 'risk crazy'. We exaggerate risks, blow things out of all proportion and shift from the perspective of 'what is' to 'what if'. That's no way to live life.

It's hard to express this coherently - I might write a post on it later. Anyway, I agree with you, let's not use this as an excuse to descend into fear and hate and paranoia. Let's just be sorry for it, accept it, and move on.

LJ said...

Second to last paragraph would be my description of "terrorism." Thanks for the comment, KD.

beadbabe49 said...

and as a friend of mine said today..."how many Iraqui's have died this week? how many US soldiers?"
where's the outrage about that?

LJ said...

BB - a psychiatrist interviewed recently stated that more people die committing suicide than die in all wars in a given year. There is no end of tragedy, if we care to see it. My point was partly that we can be poisoned by any tragedy if we use it as a focus for rage or allow it to make us feel hopeless. Either we act to make it the world better, in whatever humble way may be available, or we leave it alone - and stop polluting the world with fear, anger and negativity.
Thank you so much for commenting.

herhimnbryn said...

' Let us be kinder to the next person we see, whoever they are, however small the opportunity.'

Thankyou lj. I will try.

Ariel said...

"Be the change that you want to see in the world" - I agree wholeheartedly with you. About VTech however, something sticks in my European throat: the right to bear arms is enshrined into the US constitution. Need I say more?

Anonymous said...

Take the guns away, and they'll switch to knives and cudgels. Having no weapons at all, they'll fall back on good 'ol oppression and poverty. Works every time.

And by "they", I mean "we".

Guns are not the problem per se. Nor are songs, books, games, or anything else we could care to try and clamp down on.

It's us. It's always been us. There have been no times of peace, no Arcadias. We're killers.

It would of course be just cracking for there to be no violence, but it's a lot to ask, given the human condition.

I'm tired. Really dogged. This shit is exhausting. And I'll have no comfort in any meaning thank you. I'm again in complete agreement with KD. Kid got pushed around, called a chink all his life, eventually snapped, went blind, lost his humanity, and shot the place up. No punchline, no moral, no nothing. Not for this weary cat. Today someone told me that stuff like this proves the existence of evil. I told him to fuck off, and that he could take that as proof of bad manners.


LJ said...

H, Ariel, thank you.

Marko. "It's always been us"...absolutely. All the ugly stuff has always been us. If we refer to that paradigm, then it is hopeless, isn't it? And there's no lack of proof if we look for it. If we use that paradigm, we bear no personal responsibility to be different than that. Why should we? What would the point be? And if we believe that paradigm, without taking into account any selfless or generous or brave actions on the part of human beings (admittedly they don't often get headlines), then we don't see anything better - even when it's in front of us. And thinking this way works for I understand the weariness. I do. Trouble with instant media coverage is that it sits every bloody tragedy in our laps. And what it dumps eats our sanity and hope and leaves us with the sensation that every catastrophe is immediately in front of us...ALL the time. Makes for a world view that is absolutely toxic.

edvard moonke said...

amen, LJ.

you and your commenters say it so beautifully, I feel I don't need to add anything.

LJ said...

Thanks Edvard. I agree. The comments are excellent.

no I am not a tree hugger, but... said...

What an amazing piece of writing - it's so refreshing to hear someone with a balanced view and not casting out blame and knee jerk reactions. If we all took a moment out to think about why these events happen and what causes sad individuals like Cho to commit those crimes I think we (being the collective world) could go a long way in preventing the number of disinfranchised and desperately unhappy people in the world. It not only applies to mentally ill and no doubt bullied people like Cho but also the potential teenagers that grow up to be terrorists.