Monday, April 16, 2007

Huns and Visigoths

It’s been a busy month for school and workplace shootings. There was an office shooting at University of Washington on April 2, a workplace shooting near Detroit on April 9, and today the horror at Virginia Tech.

It’s part of a trend that's been gathering speed for years. In just this calendar year there have been high school shootings in Tacoma, Chicago, and Las Vegas, workplace shootings in Signal Hill and Indianapolis, and a mall shooting in Utah.

What’s wrong with our national psyche that seemingly ordinary civilians think the solution to their problems is to kill other citizens just going about the business of living their lives?

Usually I can take the historian’s long-range, high-level view of things. I try to see events in their larger context, in which the day-to-day minutiae of lives like yours and mine aren’t all that important. But I had a sort of gestalt moment today, watching the news unfold from Virginia Tech. And it wasn’t because I work at a university. It was something else, like one of those trick pictures where the two faces become a cup, and vice-versa. What matters isn’t what we see or think we see, but what’s going on in our brains that makes it so.

Something is wrong, and today my historian’s brain refused to save me from having to think too hard about it. I couldn’t take the thousand-year view of things, mutter something under my breath about Huns and Visigoths and brush it all off as “just what dumb humans do.” Aren’t we dumb humans collectively doing enough, with lies, wars, environmental destruction and waste of resources? Must we randomly shoot each other, too?

Anyway, it was all a little much for me today. So when I came home, I went for a longer run than usual, and really pushed myself. I didn’t care about my sore hip, or the fact that I was tired, my legs were stiff and I was hungry. I ran hard, hoping I could wear myself out enough to shut up my brain, just for a little while.

In the context of millennia, no one will even care about the things that happened on this one turn around the sun. But today, I cared, and I didn't want to. When you care, you're supposed to act, and I have no confidence that there are any solutions that won't be worse than the problem. I can only hope that someday our collective insanity will be played out, lost in the forgetfulness of time, remembered only by historians, who'll shake their heads over what monsters our society produced.

They'll mutter under their breath about Huns, Visigoths and school shooters, then go about the business of the day.


December Quinn said...

I can only hope they look back and say "And that's when we started doing this, this and this, and solved a ot of the problem."

Rachel said...

It's so upsetting. I haven't even really begun to think about it. I used to live near there too. Life doesn't make sense. It's so chaotic and so full of violence. We have to keep our family and friends close to us for comfort.

somebunnysloveDOTcom said...

I wish the weather would allow us the chance to run outdoors. Your words bring a new insight to the event. I hope we as a group learn from it and improve for the future.
Bunny hugs to you and Tidbit,

Spider63 said...

What's wrong is that we have a new America where people like Rush Limbaugh have spent years telling everyone that it is OK for the elderly to die because they can't afford medicine (they should have saved up for it), the homeless deserve to freeze to death, illegal aliens should be killed off, etc.

When you have a national philosophy that is all about pillage, plunder, and corruption (Republicans); there are going to be ramifications.

There are 25,000 young US Soldiers missing parts of their legs because Dick Cheney wanted to save money on the armor plating for Hummvees, while Halliburton is billing billions of dollars for projects that it never completes and supplies that aren't delivered.

Many people nearing retirement are realizing that thanks to the "free-market" laws; their pension plan and social security reforms guarantee they will live in poverty unless "they saved up for it."