Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre: Are Things Getting Worse?

I was having a conversation with a coworker about the lack of empathy humans have for each other after the first headlines started trickling in on the internet newscast about the horrific tragedy that had happened over at Virginia Tech. At that reading, there were only 21 dead. Later, when the numbers started to rise, so did the empty feeling in my stomach that this was not only a devastating tragedy, but also something that will be referred to in history books along with Columbine, Waco, and..well, pick your horror show.

Later, she and I began talking about the concept of the state of human beings in general and how they treat each other: is it getting worse? In a supposedly "civilized" society, how does something like this happen? And is it happening more often?

I'm not a specialist in history; I was always interested but spent most of my time writing or reading fiction, so I'm not going to sit here and wax philosophical on what I don't really know jack about. But I will say this: there are two sides in the answer to this proverbial coin, at least for me.

The first is that yes, it is getting worse. Many kids today are growing up not only faster (due to more exposure to more resources and information via our new information age and it's technological toys) but also with a sense of...arrogance and lack of respect and empathy for their fellow human. I see this trait spanning across economic, racial, gender, and religious lines. Whether it's rich priviledged kids who feel it's their right to do whatever they want or poor kids who feel that they have nothing to lose; black or white, green or purple; girls or boys; christians, jews, muslims - I see it.

I find myself starting to sound like my father..."When I was a kid..." but it's TRUE! When I was a kid, there was a sense of respect you had for your elders. Now, I get five year olds giving me the finger.

When my FATHER was a kid, he got mugged by a gang of boys for his shoes. They beat him up and took the shoes and he had to walk home barefoot. Nowadays, there is a good chance that same kid would get shot for those shoes.
30 years ago people settled scores by a good old fashioned fight with your fists. Now, ten-year-olds are picking up guns and shooting each other for stepping on their shadow.

So yeah...there is an argument for the first side of this coin.

However, the second side is also as compelling. We are comparing the atrocities that are going on now to our current experience of what we know and understand. If we go back in time, though, and compare it to...say...a time when feeding Christians to the lions and hanging out, eating grapes and getting a blowjob while it happened was a regular part of society, then perhaps things aren't so bad.

There was The Inquisition, The Salem Witch Hunts, thousands of horrific events; hell - even gunslingers in the Old West would just shoot out their differences in the middle of the street. Then again - if you stole a horse you were hung, so...

I think the point is that violence was prevalent and an almost natural medium all through human history...so is it really any worse?

And, dear reader, I pose the question: should be really surprised that this has happened? My prayers go out to all the families that lost a loved one during this tragedy and I mean no disrespect, but in all honesty, I'm truly surprised that this doesn't happen more often. Like...once a month.

Considering the fact that we as humans (no matter how much yoga, meditation, prayer, affirmations, etc., try to do) have proven ourselves to be a mostly violent society (take a look at what's popular on either tv, video games, movies and our history) - which is not our fault in some respects, because we are human and humans are not devoid of those emotions; and then taking into consideration the fact that a sizable chunk of the population are just TOTALLY INSANE - and I don't mean people who are depressed or anxious or suffering from a psychological disorder, I'm talking about complete sociopathic or psychotic personalities, many of whom are able to keep it together and keep it under wraps - I'm surprised that this kind of thing doesn't happen all the time.

My friend was a bit shocked - and interested - when I said that, but I meant it. Thank God it doesn't happen more often, I really do thank God for that - but I am surprised...

Just another reason why we should be thankful for each and every day we have.


Blogger Nikki_Jilton said...

You are all too right. I'm not sure what is pushing society in general over the edge, but all I know is that a lot of people know how this kid was feeling, and no one said anything. This fasade is driving the world into "debauchary" (I think that's the word he used), and the ones suffering are the young people.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Wordstrix said...

Things are getting more CLEAR when it's obvious that (a) our so-called gun-control laws are not working; little things like, say, BACKGROUND CHECKS are not being taken care of; and (b) this guy made videos, went to the post office, probably had a steak dinner, and THEN had round two of shooting. Did ANYONE fucking notice?

These people are everywhere.

Great observations.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Nikki_Jilton said...

WHY Are you blaming gun control? Background check? His record was completely clean! If you want to blame someone, blame the teachers who saw what was happening to him and didn't do anything.

6:39 AM  
Blogger Billychic said...

No, you're right - his record was completely clean, I saw an interview with the dude that sold him the guns.

However, I don't know if the teachers really saw anything happening to him...reading the writing of someone in a fiction writing class and thinking it's disturbing does not a therapist make.

To me, personally, I don't buy that they saw anything at all - from day one it smelled like damage control to me..."oh, let's say that we saw the handwriting on the wall and were in the process of thinking about doing something about it..."

Which is another way of saying that they didn't know shit from shinola...which actually backs up parts of your original statement, Nikki, so yeah, there ya go.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Billychic said...

Oh - one more thing, though - I don't know jack shit about gun laws, so I'm just throwing this out there...but it seems to me that due to the fact that a gun is something that in the wrong hands can do a helluva lot of damage, just checking to see if someone has a criminal record isn't enough of a background check for me.

I mean, isn't that kind of like putting the cart before the horse? There are a lot of folks who haven't committed crimes yet who will...once they get the damn gun. Our VT gunman being a perfect example. Maybe some kind of psychological testing or something should be required...I dunno.

I mean, hell, I could probably go in and get a gun...and that would be a sorry mistake for all of mankind...lol

11:26 AM  

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