Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech: Contemplating the Violence within the Heartland

…I am only what lives inside each and every one of you.

--Charles Manson, 1970

When contemplating the massacre at Virginia Tech University, I am struck by the surprise and shock people expressed that something so terrible could happen in their community. It happened before in Columbine and needless to say it will happen again in the years to come.

Truth is why shouldn’t it have happened in Blacksburg, Virginia or Columbine, Colorado or any other community that considers itself immune from the violence that plagues American cities? Where does one get the idea that if you live in a certain place then you are safe from the evils of the world?

In many ways it is hubris to consider such a possibility. Time and time again, we see on the evening news twisted individuals venting their nihilistic rage on innocent people in the most isolated and rural of settings. In my eyes, it’s woefully obvious: there is no sanctuary from evil.

As long as people remain fallible then evil can erupt from anyone, anywhere, and anytime. As long as certain people continue to contemplate revenge by murdering the innocent and live in a society where there are ample outlets to stoke, gratify, and express that rage then acts of mass murder such as Blacksburg, Columbine, and other places will re-enact themselves until the end of time itself.

Personally, I am convinced that you can find a lot of hate, anger, and violent rage in the most innocuous of places. I can speak from personal experience. When I lived in Delran, New Jersey from 1967 to 1992, I experienced innumerable instances of senseless violence, hatred, and expressions of rage from total strangers and people that I attended school with every day; acts that, in retrospect, were quite scary to contemplate. That’s one of the reasons why I moved to my present location (not that I consider myself immune where I live now but it’s certainly better than living in Delran).

Truth is you never know when evil will rear its ugly head. The best anyone can do is being aware of your surroundings and the people that inhabit them; Try to steer clear of danger and, most important of all, pray…a lot.

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