Monday, April 16, 2007
The Day After
It is surreal to be writing a "day after" post on the same evening an unspeakable tragedy is still playing out, but, for me at least, this is how I have to attempt to make sense of what happened on the campus of Virginia Tech today.
We're told that "the day after" something like this happens, maybe the healing can begin. But, in reality, most of us know this isn't true. For at least 32 people, there will be no tomorrow. Young men and women going to class, some of whom were about to graduate, others perhaps looking forward to a summer working and living in Blacksburg with good friends, had what matters most, their futures, ripped away in one of the most cruel fashions imaginable.
Tomorrow, there will be no resolution or peace for those left to wonder "why?". In a very real sense, for some of the families and friends of the victims, their lives ended today as well.
I can't pretend to be able to effectively sympathize with what this feels like. Never have I had someone taken from me so coldly and quickly, their physical existence removed from this earth for reasons that could never be explained. In the most selfish part of my heart, I truly hope that I will never find myself going through such an experience. I take no pleasure in admitting that, but I would be fooling myself if I did not say so.
In any case, my thoughts have been squarely focused on the quiet rolling foothills of southside Virginia all day. I grew up about 90 minutes from the V.T. campus in Martinsville, Va. I had two cousins play under Frank Beamer. Several classmates from high school went to Tech. I am proud to count many Hokies among my best friends in San Francisco. We are nominal rivals in sports, as I went to the University of Virginia, but, as I said to my mom when we spoke today, everyone in Virginia, especially where we're from, knows someone who went to V.T. I've attended Hokie/Hoo weddings. The ripple effect of this depraved act will spread itself over the entire Commonwealth. I pray for my state tonight.
As anguished as I am about the shootings, I feel an equal amount of anger at those who are already seeking to politicize this moment. Today is not the day to have a "conversation" about gun control. Today is not the day to speculate about arming citizens in an effort to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. To the people who want to go down that road today, I have two simple words:
Tomorrow, there will be time for questions. Tomorrow, we can ask what in our society has gone so awry that a young man felt that the only way to deal with his problems was by arming himself and slaying innocent people. Tomorrow, the day after, we can start this conversation.
But not tonight.