Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Asking Why

Continuing our discussion of demons, we learned about Traditional beliefs about evil spirits this week in youth group. We spent most of the meeting by candlelight, to remind ourselves that the ancient world could be a dark and scary place. People did not understand why bad things happened, so they attributed everything unexplainable to evil spirits. For Jews, beliefs about the devil developed while they were under occupation of foreign forces in the 200s B.C.E. They struggled to be faithful in a world where they had little control over the forces that oppressed them.

This week we were reminded that the world is not so different today. We are struggling right now to understand why a college student would take the lives of 32 other people, but we should be careful not to think of Seung Hui Cho as a demon. I've seen a lot of angry and violent messages on the internet, but that doesn't help anything.

Instead, we need to try to understand what would drive a person to such measures. What can be done to prevent more people from reaching that point?

Why do you think shootings like this happen?

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Blogger B said...

I'll tell you EXACTLY why these shootings happen... no, just kidding. But I do think there should be more aggressive psychological action in schools in general (Cho's teachers repeatedly tried to get him help and it basically went nowhere) and background checks on gun purchases should invalidate, or at least seriously track, customers with any reported history of mental illness. (I believe Cho had a document from a judge saying he was a threat to himself and/or others.) I think gun laws should be stricter in general, and the mental health system in this country needs major overhaul (as my sister "the future psychologist" can attest to), but those are probably pipe dreams.

9:48 AM  
Blogger B said...

Here's an interesting quote I just saw in The Washington Post, on the police's attempts to get more information on Cho:

"Frustrating their effort, is the fact that Cho revealed himself to so few people. Even family members have said they rarely heard him speak.

'I guess the thing that is most startling to me, I say startling, surprising, is a young man who's 23 years old, that's been here for a while, that seemed to not know anybody,' [state police superintendent] Flaherty said."

3:38 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Confession: I called into an NPR talk show about this topic. (Baltimore)
My main point was that this tragedy speaks to our serious lack of understanding of community in our culture.
The panel were all journalists. One of them responded by saying she had been on campus and interviewed a "gregarious" friendly guy who had declared just recently to a friend in line at the dining hall: "I have been on campus with this guy for 6 1/2 years.. I am going to get him to talk to me." He was unsuccessful in doing so.
I was not able to make any response, but I felt like screaming "you call trying to get someone to say "hi" after 6.5 years shows we care about community?" Who was there for him when he was 8 and in a new country? When he was lonely in High School?
Answer: we think it's ok for vast swaths of kids to feel bereft of meaningful community while they are growing up. How is that good, normal, or acceptable?

8:32 PM  

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