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April 17, 2007


Is This A Symptom of our "Chain Letter Society"?

Read an analysis of the influences in our "Chain Letter Society" that may be precipitating events like the tragedy at Virginia Tech and how our focus on winning and being number one may be fostering a generation of children with fully inadequate coping skills who have a misguided sense of self-worth...here:


You've pretty much covered it all, Gina. So much needs to be done, yet I fear it will be business as usual. The "usual suspects" will be spotlighted by the MSM, the usual cries for gun control will be raised, the "culture of violence" - as Obama has boringly droned on about - will be decried, and nothing will be done save that most of us will be further restricted in our daily lives with our Constitutional rights curtailed for the convenience of the governmental elite.

Prayers will help, and so will training. But getting to know who your neighbors are, while not always desirable, may actually relieve someone of the feelings of abandonment that could lead to such horrific acts.

Well done, Gina!

We need to stop reacting to every isolated tragedy as though we are now all implicitly at risk. It's terribly tragic that these events occur, but perhaps more so when in their aftermath school kids are subjected to ever harsher security measures and wacky paranoid attitudes. These ideas are turning our schools into prisons rapidly. That's leaving out the obvious fact that training our kids how to react to these assaults will only cement the idea OF these assaults in kids' minds. It may have no further effect than inspiring that one susceptible child to take action. NOT a good idea.

These events are terrible. But no matter how hard we try, we never can prepare for them. Am I saying we should not try? Absolutely, that's exactly what I'm saying. I am saying WE SHOULD STOP TRYING to "protect" our children when it only adds to their stress and fear, and suffocates them. Give the paranoia a break already.

Meanwhile, the calls to religious training may ring true to you, a believer. But to me and millions of others, "faith" is really a suspension of disbelief; a willingness to believe what you're told, stop asking questions, and blithely flow along on a stream of golden hope, or whatever. An altered state of reality, if you will. A drug. There is no reason to believe that religious training will have any measure of difference in the lives of those whose troubles (or their reactions thereto) drive them to these acts. In fact, there are many examples of people whose very religious fervor IS the driving cause of their violence (i.e., Charles Manson, Jim Jones, any number of Islamic terrorists). It has also been the root cause of many, if not most, of the wars and genocides in human history. Not a great record of harmony to run on in my opinion.

You may not be advocating for religious indoctrination, but for coursework addressing what various religions believe, from a secular point of view. The tough part in that case is how to ensure that such courses do NOT in fact become, if not indoctrination classes, at least advocacy. It's too difficult to pull off, and would never work. Meanwhile, I don't know of a single university that doesn't offer such classes to any student that wants them. Do you?

To sum up, no one knows why these events occur, but they are so staggeringly unlikely to occur in our own lives that to move heaven and earth to protect ourselves from them is a big, fat waste of time and energy. It does more harm than good. And looking to religion to solve the world's problems has a proven record of failure that should be obvious to anyone.

Lack of religious training? Charles Whitman, who committed the worst school shooting prior to Virginia Tech, was an altar boy. The notion that religious training protects against the sort of mental illness that compels people to commit a suicidal crime of this nature makes about as much sense as expecting religious training to protect against the flu. - trrll

Editor's note from Gina Cobb: True as far as it goes, but incomplete. Several months before the shootings, Whitman told a family friend that he had lost his faith and no longer considered himself a practicing Catholic. This is where my recommendation that parents help their children find a church near college that they can remain actively involved in comes into play. College students need social support and regular reminders to act ethically, to forgive others, and to accept that they are forgiven. Christianity provides just that. Sadly, Whitman's life turned murderous after he left the church.

Gina: Ref: Whitman; true as far as it goes, but why did he leave the church? Was it not adequate to his needs, whatever they were? Too situational for analysis.

I want to second what Benning says. And add that God is on campus, he is everywhere, and he did nothing to stop this very troubled person, that he made in his image, from killing 32 young people, who he created in his image. I suppose that his was all done for the betterment of us survivors that we may contemplate his glory and be tested in our faith so we will love god more?

I applaud your apparent goodness, and you appear to be a very fine person. I am an atheist, and can be moral, ethical, and kind without religion. I believe in the Golden Rule. If you really commit to it, and accept it, its more personal and requires as much commitment as most religions.

You say "Schools don't need to teach religion as such, but they can certainly make sure that their students are Bible literate."

I'll send you an official portrait of President Jackson if you can tell me what the first sentence in the Bible is.

I'm guessing strongly that I'll check that $20 bill...

I'm going to take the silence as a no. The first sentence in the Bible is "B'reishis barah Elokim es haShamayim v'es haAretz" (Ashkenazi pronunciation, the Name of G_d aliased).

When you learn the Bible through English translation (particularly those done by Christians), you wind up knowing less than nothing, because what you know is wrong. It amazes me how so many people in this country can pretend to love the Bible, yet are too lazy to learn how to read it.

Question Marks

"This didn't have to happen", Cho Seung-Hui said, after murdering thirty-two people at Virginia Tech University.

And this terrible tragedy of sons, daughters, mothers and fathers didn't have to happen, if we'd only listened.

But we never listen.

We never listen to those that are different from us- the outcasts, the lonely, the homeless, the ones that are unspoken for. We don't try to understand. We shun them and put them out of our minds because of our fear that we will become like them.

And these people become more and more lonely and alienated in their isolation.

Words like "creep", "deranged misfit" and "psycho" devalue this killer's humanity so we don't have to face how similar he is to us. Cries of "how could he have been stopped" are uttered by media quick to sensationalize and gain market share, when the words "how could he have been listened to" are never considered.

Because we don't want to listen.

We don't want to hear about loneliness and alienation when we're all so busy with our lives, making money and making friends. And the unpopular, the ones that don't fit in, the lonely ones are ignored or made fun of because we don't care to understand anything about them.

This man who clearly needed help, Cho Seung-Hui, devalued himself so much that he called himself "Question Mark".

There are more "Question Marks" out there. There are millions of them. And if we don't listen to them, they will follow the same path again and again, because people are not connecting. We are becoming more and more disconnected from each other, creating more and more "Question Marks" every day.

Most "Question Marks" don't become murderers. Some just kill themselves. Most harm no one and live just as we do, needing antidepressants to appear what we call "normal". They may be someone you know, someone you love.

This "Question Mark" was once a little boy, who cried, and smiled and loved, He wanted to fit in just like you and I. But that desire to fit in transformed itself into anger towards a society that shunned and ignored him.

How many more times will we shun and ignore the one that doesn't fit in, the one in the corner, the one that's different? When all we have to do is listen, before it's too late.

But we won't.

Thirty-two human beings who did not know Cho Seung-Hui were murdered.
They were sons, daughters, fathers and mothers, with dreams of futures that will never come and children that will never be born. The thirty-two leave behind people that love them. People that are now scarred for life by this horrible day of death.

To most of us that have not been directly involved, this tragedy will become a memory and fade like all the others that came before.

And the "Question Marks" will appear with more frequency, again and again, because we don't listen.

We never do.



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