As the reports began to emerge Monday from Virginia Tech, the country watched in horror as the death toll mounted. First it was thought there were two shooters, and then it was finally determined that it was in fact one disturbed student behind the whole thing. It is impossible to gauge the number of lives this act of violence has destroyed or how long it will take the family and friends of the victims to come to terms with what has happened.
It's been less than a week since those 32 people lost their lives and I have heard so many people make the comment that the campus police should have locked down the campus after the first 2 shootings that happened in a dorm. Why did it take 2 hours to inform the Virginia Tech students? Why didn't they do something more? To that I can only say that hindsight is 20/20, and retrospectively I'm sure that all parties involved wished that they had done things differently. Of course they do....the same way that people who survive horrible car wrecks think and rethink the events leading up to the accident. "If only I had left the house 2 minutes earlier instead of running back inside for that bottle of water. If only I had not stopped to chat with the neighbor for 5 minutes...then I would have completely avoided the accident." If only....if only. Anyone who has been the victim of a random event has had this maddening thought repeating over and over again. We think that if we can rationalize and logic it to death that it will be easier to come to terms with the event.
Sometimes things just happen. It doesn't matter what you do or don't do. You can't plan for it and you can't see the future, and it's not really fair to try and assign blame although that is our first reaction to the unexplainable. The campus police thought the first shooting was a domestic violence situation. They had sent deputies out to find the boyfriend of one of the victims and thought that they were on the right track. They had no reason to believe and no way of knowing that there was a mentally unstable student on his way to the post office to mail his manifesto en route to the building where he would take 30 more lives and then his own. Why would they have notified the entire campus that a jealous boyfriend lost control and shot his girlfriend and the guy he thought she was seeing behind his back? They felt like they had the situation in hand and all the bases covered.
Why does our society try to assign blame where it doesn't belong? We blame childhoods filled with abuse for the actions of pedophiles and child abusers and give them lenient sentences and probation. We blame cigarette companies for causing lung cancer, and gun manufacturers for children being shot in the streets. People need to stop deflecting attention away from their own actions by blaming others and take some responsibility for the things they have done. Yes, you may have had a crappy, abuse-filled childhood but you had the choice to move on and not perpetuate the atrocities you experienced. No one forced you to smoke 2 packs a day for 28 years, so don't act surprised when you get hit with the cancer stick and are given 6 months to live. Guns don't kill people....people kill people.
It's grown to such ridiculous proportions that we don't have any idea how to respond to a crisis except to point fingers. Stupid amounts of tax dollars are going to be spent trying to assign blame in Virginia over the next few months. I could save them a lot of money if they would just ask me whose fault it is. How about the 23 year old killer who methodically shot and murdered 32 people? When all is said and done, it was his fault that this happened. Should the school have made more of an effort to counsel him and get to the bottom of his frightening writings? Probably. Should the police have locked down the campus after the first shooting? Perhaps. But blaming someone other than Cho for what happened is completely irresponsible. It's ridiculous to say that things would have turned out differently if we had done B instead of A. If only the school had just seen the warning signs and taken him seriously. If only his classmates had tried harder to reach out to him. If only. That sort of rationalization begins to turn the victimizer into a victim and that is no way to honor the memory of the dead.