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2007 April 17
by Julie Clawson

The mass killing at Virginia Tech yesterday is on everyone’s minds. It is hard to understand the why, but I found some of the information released in today’s news to be disturbing –

The suspected gunman in the Virginia Tech shooting rampage, Cho Seung-Hui, was a troubled 23-year-old senior from South Korea who investigators believe left an invective-filled note in his dorm room, sources say. …
A note believed to have been written by Cho was found in his dorm room that railed against “rich kids,” “debauchery” and “deceitful charlatans” on campus….
Timothy Johnson, a student from Annandale, Va., said people would say hello to Cho in passing, but nobody knew him well.
“People are pretty upset,” Johnson said. “He’s a monster; he can’t be normal. I can’t believe I said ‘hi’ to him in the hall and then he killed all those people.”

Two things struck me. How Cho’s suppossed “reasons” for the attack parallel some of the reasons given for 9/11. And then the response of the fellow student. Just the assumption that to be nice to someone who is abnormal or even evil is so out of the question.

I in no way want to justify Cho’s actions or blame the victim’s for his choices. I know we don’t know much about Cho and what other issues he was dealing with. But I have to wonder at how people like him are pushed to the edge. When normal people won’t interact with the guy who’s a bit off, when one sees valid concerns in the structure of society and feels powerless to have a voice against them – what then are constructive ways to work for change?

I know I get frustrated by how the normal response to me by my friends is just to roll their eyes or make fun of me when I go off on one of my liberal hippie jesusy rants. And on the national scale when countries don’t change the way we want them to, we go on killing sprees with bombs. I guess that’s what my rambling is leading to – trying to figure out how to change the world effectively without resorting to violence or despair. That’s what’s running through my head as I reflect in shock on the recent events.


5 Responses leave one →
  1. gerbmom permalink
    April 17, 2007

    Here’s another take according to Ian MacFarlane and also a “play” Cho wrote. You have to wonder what his life was like to trigger this level of anger and despair in someone.
    Warning – play is NOT child friendly. It is just below the blogpost.

  2. Elane permalink
    April 17, 2007

    I didn’t read the student’s comments that way — that being nice to “a monster” is hard.

    I read them as shock in the face of reality: that someone you pass regularly and say “hi” to could be someone who could do this. I suspect he’s realizing that even the people he thinks he does know, he doesn’t necessarily know.

  3. Julie permalink
    April 17, 2007

    elane – I did see the comments both ways. I guess my reaction though was should a person being a “monster” change if we are nice to them or not?

    Karen – thanks for the link. I haven’t read the plays yet, but I did read the student’s comments. It made me think about kids in the youth group. There were always the couple of kids who would sit by themselves in the back, say cruel things whenever anyone tried to strike up a conversation, criticize all aspects of worship… and then one day stop coming and maybe send us a long letter about how evil we and the youth group were. How no one there ever reached out to them and showed them the love of Christ, how we catered to the pop worship loving jocks and cheerleaders, how they couldn’t be themselves there and its all our fault. Its hard when you spent years pouring love onto the kid trying to make him feel welcomed and all you really wanted to do was tell them to get over themselves and their sense of entitlement. These kids pushed people away so often that the others gave up on them, and then they lashed out because others gave up on them. How do you reach kids like that?!

  4. kent permalink
    April 17, 2007

    You wonder what makes a person pass beyond the barrier of being frustrated to violent actions? I understand the frustration of lack of change or of the arrogance of others, but there is a wall that most of us stop at, but there are few who jump and act on their emotions. This man did not kill just one or two as if that would have made it better. He killed 32 at two different times sepasrated by hours. I wonder how he made that jump. I wonder if a kind sincerely interaction would have changed him, if a single person who gave him dignity and compassion would have stemmed the tide. I do not know.

  5. Julie permalink
    April 17, 2007

    I do wonder if the initial killing was a passion kill and the rest were a “I already did it, so now I’m just going to finish it all” afterthought.

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