Some perspective on the Virginia Tech shootings

I am the parent of a teenager who soon will be off to college. Yesterday’s events in Blacksburg are heartbreaking and frightening by any standard, and my condolences go out to the families of the victims and to everyone in the community.

This excerpt from an email I received today made me think more broadly, however:

33 students killed on a college campus in Virginia yesterday; in Iraq —
yesterday, 120 alleged “terrorists” killed; to date: 3309 US soldiers dead; 26,188
wounded (physically and many more emotionallyP—-670,000+ Iraqis dead; 4 million displaced.

200 more killed today in Baghdad. What counts as a massacre? Who defines what a massacre is?

***

At the Virginia Tech convocation, poet Nikki Giovanni made this connection, more gently:

We Are Virginia Tech

Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor of English, VPI&SU
http://www.english.vt.edu/ <http://www.english.vt.edu/&gt;

We are Virginia Tech

We are sad today
We will be sad for quite a while
We are not moving on
We are embracing our mourning

We are Virginia Tech

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly
We are brave enough to bend to cry
And we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again

We are Virginia Tech

We do not understand this tragedy
We know we did nothing to deserve it

But neither does a child in Africa
Dying of AIDS

Neither do the Invisible Children
Walking the night away to avoid being captured by a rogue army

Neither does the baby elephant watching his community
Be devastated for ivory
Neither does the Mexican child looking
For fresh water

Neither does the Iraqi teenager dodging bombs

Neither does the Appalachian infant killed
By a boulder
Dislodged
Because the land was destabilized

No one deserves a tragedy

We are Virginia Tech
The Hokie Nation embraces
Our own
And reaches out
With open heart and mind
To those who offer their hearts and hands

We are strong
And brave
And innocent
And unafraid

We are better than we think
And not yet quite what we want to be

We are alive to imagination
And open to possibility
We will continue
To invent the future

Through our blood and tears
Through all this sadness

We are the Hokies

We will prevail
We will prevail
We will prevail

We are
Virginia Tech

Nikki Giovanni, delivered at the Convocation, April 17, 2007

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