Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech

There is no need to link to stories. No need to point to reactions around the blogosphere. The Virginia Tech tragedy is now firmly a part of our American psyche, and there it will remain for months to come.

We've seen this before. Colorado. Washington. Wisconsin. Our nation's capital. Senseless taking of lives through violence that seemingly accomplishes nothing.

Here in my home I feel somewhat safe. In some ways that's just an illusion. Safety always means steps that we take to avoid being acted upon by others. I lock my doors every night to prevent break-ins. I lock my cars everywhere I go so they'll be there when I need to go somewhere. I wish I could safely lock up my kids, but they're human and locking them up is cruelty in the extreme. The older they get, the more I have to let go. I don't want to.

I'm a dad. I've worked long and hard to become one. I'm still working on it. I want to be a better dad tomorrow than I am today. I'm sure my kids want that, too. Being a dad means watching these little copies of yourself — and your wife and a smattering of other assorted relations down through time — grow up and away. It is a bittersweet process.

We want them to succeed. We try to give them tools to help them along their journey. We teach them about strangers and how to avoid them. We teach them about friends and how to cultivate them. We try to teach them the difference. We know that one day, much sooner than we care to think about, they will leave our home and make their own way in this world. This very large, very cruel, increasingly violent world.

One day my kids will go to college. When I was their age, we were hearing about protests and violence at many of our campuses across the country. The Vietnam war was the purported reason, although I have long suspected that so many of those kids protested just because it was "cool" to protest. Everyone else was doing it, and it was a chance to become an anarchist for awhile without suffering any real consequences. But if you asked them why they were doing it, they could point to the war and "the Man," and everyone else sort of understood what that meant.

I didn't want to become a part of that. I suspect that I was so jaded by these stories, especially Kent State, that they became part of my rationalization for never completing a four-year degree. College was just too dangerous.

This is silly, of course. My sweet wife got her degree from BYU. Several years later she completed her Masters at ASU. I think she suffered one broken finger during her entire school career. Certainly she never felt compelled to "protest" anything but the occasionally boring class.

Then we hear about a Columbine or a Virginia Tech and my old rationalizations pop back into my head. I don't want my kids becoming another tragic statistic.

So far the girls are cooperating. The older one wants to do community college before deciding on a university. The younger one says she'll do her degree online. Daddy likes that idea; but the girls are only 7 and 9 now, and they have plenty of time to decide what they really want to do when it really matters. The heck of it is that I can only serve as an advisor. They'll have to decide for themselves where they want to go, and all I can do is support them.

Which, of course, I intend to do. I have plenty of precedent to support sending them wherever they choose to go. One Perfect Soul supported his Begotten Son as the Savior came to the earth and was subjected to every kind of trial and persecution imaginable. As God must have wept while watching his Son suffer as he did, so also do we weep when we see tragedy of this scale. We imagine those grieving loved ones who now must wrestle with the cosmic questions of Why. Why my little boy or girl? Why would this monster do such a thing? Why me? Why now? Why? Why? Why?

I have my own answers to these questions. My spiritual perspective helps me make some limited sense out of events such as these. I have to trust that, at some point in my eternal progression, the true answers will finally be known and understood. Then, and only then, will we have true "closure."

Until then, God bless the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims and the shooter. May they all find rest and peace in a coming day.

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