In the years following Columbine and the myriad of other school shootings, have we really become that desensitized to senseless violence? Unfortunately I have to agree with Ms. Noonan and say, "yes, we have."
But how can you blame us? If it's not the 11PM news broadcast leading with the tragic killing of the day, or as reported at CNN, folks playing video games as a form of escapism, our media culture bathes us in violence every day, and during practically every minute of every day.
Now imagine a troubled young man from a highly structured Korean household where responsibility to family and propriety far outweigh anything your average, corn-fed American could ever comprehend. Now overlay our cultural bombardment on this boy, and think about the conflict that could easily grow within someone already predisposed to imbalance.
There is not a single silver lining to be found in this story, and that is what saddens me most.
But just as anyone finds after the immediacy of any tragedy concludes, life does go on. There's a terribly inconvenient back up on the Bay Bridge leading into San Francisco. My oldest slammed his middle finger in the door frame from the kitchen into the garage last night. We'll see how long that fingernail lasts. And I read today in Editor and Publisher how Bill Moyer is coming out with a lambasting of Journalists regarding their handling of the run-up to the Iraq War.
And I find it an odd coincidence how the Bill Moyer story and the Virginia Tech story are related. Similar to the points I raised in my piece Play Writing the other day, it's all about motivation. The frustration with both of these stories, interestingly enough, lies with our inability to ever know the true motivations behind Cho Seung-Hui's actions, or why journalists rode the jingoistic, patriotic band wagon towards the death of thousands of American service men.
Now I'm NOT…I repeat…NOT drawing a single parallel between the Virginia Tech tragedy and the war in Iraq. I point this out because I re-read the last paragraph and see how out of context someone could easily suspect that is the parallel I am drawing. What I am illustrating is American's, or maybe humans' ability to comprehend the long term effect of seemingly innocuous actions. School-yard teasing. Acting in order to protect one's job. Not whistle blowing. Not standing up for someone being teased. Not imposing help upon someone who is potentially a danger to him/herself. Painting a prettier picture of a situation, verging on un-truthful, to sell a deeper agenda. Elements and simple actions that, out of context, seem silly to criticise, can compound to very explosive results.
So are we cold to the results? Or are we possibly removing our selves emotionally from the outcomes because we know that in some way, our apathy is partially responsible for the world in which we live? I don't see anyone (including myself) standing up in outrage and finally telling media outlets to stop publicizing random acts of violence, when so much good happens around our communities every day. We have become a society addicted to accusing others of impropriety, and wrong doing.
Well I'm going to start taking more responsibility for my own actions. How about you?