i avoided writing about the va tech shootings for a few days now. i didn’t have much to say at first and ray’s post said more than i could have. but my parents are visiting this week and the combination has prompted me to re-think the on-going nature of the tragedy.
boingboing has had consistent coverage of the shooting — at least one or two really informative posts every day. this is where i have followed the story, as the posts come through my feed reader.
but yesterday, we went to exercise and the tv was on in the fitness room. and there, in all its glory, was fox news reporting. i had to turn my ipod up to ludicrous volumes in order to drown out the tv. but the images kept coming.
i don’t want to see pictures. i don’t want to watch the videos the shooter made. i do not need to hear his words.
we came back up and my mom asked to watch the nightly news. i forget — my news comes to me in a fairly steady stream throughout a day. my parents, on the other hand, still read the paper every night and still watch the nightly news. this is how they learn about the world. i turned on the tv for them and went into the other room.
i know i am not the only person responding this way. in fact, ‘tv night’ was last night and kurt, john, mike and brinker all came over. the topic of the shootings came up last night and both kurt and rachael said they too were trying to avoid coverage.
perhaps we are jaded. i think more likely it comes down to several factors: we all get our news online while at work. it also affords us a more balanced view of the facts that something like the nightly news. the second reason is simply because we have learned to avoid this type of news coverage. i know, for me personally, that after 9/11, i have refused to watch video of the towers. the horror and sickness that comes from those videos, from remembering that day, is physical, even now as i type this, i can feel my stomach tensing in stress. understanding something does not mean we have any obligation to make ourselves continually sick from it. it is gluttonous in the worst of ways.
there seems to be a general need to ascribe meaning to this act. people have come out of the woodwork, declaring gun control, video games, prescription drugs to be at fault. they point to previous issues the boy had, creative writing he had done, various ways the college could have attempted to prevent this type of thing from happening.
but there will never be meaning.
there will never be a single cause for what happened, no scapegoat, no culprit, no activity or decision that could have stopped it from happening. and the sad reality is that this will be the largest act of its kind only until the next one happens.
perhaps that is why i am not interested in finding a cause. why i don’t want to hear any of his manifesto. the real tragedy lies in all things we are not talking about, in favor of trying to ascribe meaning to his acts. in favor of glamorizing him and the package he sent to nbc.
when horrific events occur, why do we, as a culture, as a society, not speak about the things we can change in ourselves, our lives? we did have a little of this dialogue after 9/11. perhaps this tragedy is not large enough to warrant such universal introspection.
but it is for me.
it’s all i have thought about this week. how can i change my life to make a difference in the world? how can i make the world a better place to live? how can i help people? what jobs, services, knowledge can i provide to help other people?
no one should die in vain. but to plaster news about the shooter everywhere, all over the news, cheapens the victims. it gives the killer the attention he craved, the spotlight for which he worked. this is not how we remember those who were killed.
no one should die in vain. what better way to honor those we have lost than by striving, every day, to make the world a better place?