Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tragedy and Triumph

I have deliberately avoided watching the televised reports on the aftermath of the shootings at Virginia Tech because of what staying glued to the tube during 9/11 did to me. I want to be able to function in the world without giving powers of darkness a foothold in my life. I have just broken free of self-imposed (or Satan's minions-imposed) fear and will fight hard to keep my eyes focused on "Whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, think on these things." (Philippians, The Bible)

However, I have spent about 40 minutes -- perhaps longer -- reading the names and short bios of those who died. I have cried for them all, prayed for their families, prayed for the world... and I have spent ten or fifteen minutes learning more about the gunman, regretting the pain he endured that brought him to this point, and praying for his soul and for the safety of his shocked, innocently shamed, helpless parents and sister and his other relatives.

The tragedy began a long, long time ago and few of the people who noticed something wrong with the young man seem to have done much to try to intervene in a compassionate, helpful manner. His classmates taunted or joked about him; a few offered "bribes" of dollar bills (I presume and hope in a light-hearted manner) to see if they could get a word out of him.

Because he was doing well academically in school, his hard-working, two-income family believed he was doing okay in spite of his handicap of apparent "unresponsiveness". A teacher noticed bizarre and horrifying creative writing efforts and suggested counseling, but could not force the issue...

In retrospect it all looks so predictable, almost scripted as the scene of horror it became.

And then -- in the midst of it all -- I read that a Holocaust survivor who was teaching at Virginia Tech held the door shut with his body, allowing students time to escape from a second-story window as bullets came through the door and the shooter tried to gain entry. This story compounded the tragedy for me to yet a third level. A man who had looked premeditated, deranged extermination in the face as a ten year old and had miraculously survived was gunned down last week in another premeditated, deranged act. Seemingly unafraid of risking his own life, all he could think of was, "Not on my watch, you don't!"

I see this incident as a perfect reflection of the battle in the spiritual realms for our souls. Satan wants to twist people as much as he can so that when someone obviously needs to be rescued from themselves, no image-bearer of God will lift a finger or say, "Let me help."

The isolated person then believes that he is not worthy of help. God reminds him, "Yes, you are!" and the small spark inside that still believes it gets angry because no one is stepping forward to shine some light into the darkness that surrounds him. When the darkness persists and there is still no escape from the pain, the anger twists into an evil desire to "get even" with all the people who should have seen his agony and been there to support him... then, worst of all comes the too-often-repeated niggling notion (Satan-derived) "Maybe I don't deserve help...maybe I am just excess baggage around here... Why was I born into this hell?"

And in steps a Savior, also a Jew, guarding potential victims with His body, shedding His life's blood saying, "Not on my watch, you don't!"


Alison said...

I've been in tears watching this also - avoiding sensationalist press as far as possible.

It's hard to do anything but cry at this. The fact that people noticed this guy's problems nearly 2 years ago and yet he was not helped (and maybe he couldn't be) is awful. He was clearly disturbed. So many people turn a blind eye to such situations.

The man that gave his life is a pure light in this darkness. Heart breaking, though. I think a lot of teachers/professors would have done the same. You instinctively protect those you are responsible for. But not always. What a hero.

What else can you say? It's deeply saddening. I feel so much for the families and friends affected.

I wish the world could be a more supportive place. There's no such thing as an isolated soul. We're all connected, and we all pay the price when we ignore each other's pain, because it is ultimately ours as well. We're all in this together.

Sending a hug of comfort across the waters...

Kristine M Smith said...

Thank you, Alison....

This is an international tragedy, truly...