A student gunman killed 32 people on Virginia Tech campus Monday, and wounded 15 others. There were two attacks, one at 7:15 claiming two persons, and the other across campus 2 hours later. Hordes of media descended, asking all questions except the important ones. Like:
Did you ever imagine, when you came to class this morning, that such a thing would happen?
Has it sunk in yet?
The blaming began within hours. There was Katie Couric, so somber, oozing love and compassion, ever so gently probing college president Charles Steger. Didn't he bear bloodguilt, she implied, for not locking down campus immediately after the first shooting?
No, he didn't. He'd already explained the first incident bore every mark of a domestic dispute. No reason to think differently. Besides, thousands of non-resident students were just then arriving for 8AM class. "Where do you lock them down?....You can only make a decision based on the information you know at that moment in time. You don't have hours to reflect on it."
That made sense to me. God help us if we start shutting down entire communities (30,000 plus at Virginia Tech) every time domestic violence flares up.
But Mr. Steger is my age, brought up in a different time. The younger you are the more likely you were to disagree. Today's students were born in the late 80's, not the domestically tranquil 40's, 50's and even 60's. A madman on rampage is not so unusual for them, so that it seemed the college should have taken this in stride. They should have known and been ready. Reporters searched until they found SWAT team experts, guys who live and breathe and dream CSI. Yes, they affirmed, the college should have known. All night, cable and satellite stations pushed the theme.
Lawyers have facilitated this thinking by successfully implanting the notion that money can compensate for life. Of course, that only happens if someone is found blameworthy. So someone must be.
On the other hand, local radio guy Bob Lonsberry found someone here who's a student there. He chatted a few minutes on air with Doug MacEvoy. Doug didn't fault anybody. Absolute madman, who could have known? totally out of the blue was all they could say from the start. But within hours, the same media folks were in full court blame press.
So maybe it's not young people at all. Maybe it's entirely lawyers and media, two groups who distinctly gain by finding parties to blame. [media, because it extends the life of the story]
For those who view such violence as, if not everyday, at least common enough that everyone should always be ready, the important question was not asked. How did society get to be this way?
In the last days, so says the apostle Paul at 2 Timothy, people will be .... without natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness.
They've always been like that, some today counter. So was Paul giving a non-prophesy? Of course he knew what people were like. But there would be a time, he advised, when such traits would be off the charts. Is such the case today? Do we not entertain the nagging suspicion that we are just this close to such events becoming absolutely routine?
Jesus said the dangerous times he foretold...times that would serve to seal the dismal record of human self-rule...would find people "faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth." [Luke 21:26] Those with faith would also be affected by events. A sign is a sign.
Yet knowing the meaning behind it all would give them a different outlook, even a hopeful one. "In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near." [vs 31]
Announcing this kingdom forms the core of Jehovah's Witnesses ministry.