We look at the empty eyes in a dead man’s photograph and we ask, why? The blame game has begun, the “if onlys” are ringing out on the airwaves, on web sites, and in living rooms across our country. But sadly and most importantly, those “if onlys” will haunt the hearts and minds of the teachers, administrators and students at Virginia Tech for many years to come. It is human nature to take the unimaginable and try to make some sense of it, to take a tragedy and try and break it down into digestible portions. We will hit the rewind button over and over again and say it is because we want to prevent another tragedy like this one, that we must learn from this incident so that the people who died did not die in vain. But I think what we really want to do is change the outcome of that terrible morning, and the reality is no amount of understanding, of well meaning “thoughts and prayers”, of misplaced blame is going to do that. Thirty-two people died because one troubled young man shot them—they did not die in vain—but they did die too soon. At the end of my first book the main character writes in a letter to her daughter;
While I do not pretend to understand the workings of the human mind, the failings of the human heart, or the forces that set one man against another, this much I do know. There is knowledge and there is ignorance, there is faith and there is despair, there is love and there is hatred, and in the end, it is simply a matter of choice, this is God’s gift to us.
I hope we can learn something from this tragedy that will keep it from happening again, I really do. But most of all I hope that the survivors and the families of those who died are able to let go of the “if onlys” before they become imprisoned by them, and that they choose to have faith in love—honoring and celebrating the lives of those who are gone too soon.
MSNBC has put up a nice page with photos and profiles of the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting.