The shooting deaths of 32 students and staff of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, is the latest example of the senseless violence that seems so often to enter our daily lives.
In the midst of the shock such events bring, it is difficult to know what to say.
So, I was moved by an editorial in the Los Angeles Times this morning:
IN THE BIBLICAL Book of Job, the anguished hero is visited by three friends who attempt to comfort him by drawing airy and sententious lessons from his agonies. Of course, they end up adding to his troubles; Job endures not only the real pains of grief and sickness but the indignity of having his suffering milked for rhetorical effect.
If only it were true that Monday’s mass murder on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was the kind of tragedy that moves us to quiet reflection. In fact, the shootings that killed more than 30 people and wounded nearly 30 others occasioned a blizzard of hasty conclusions, instant position-taking and the rehashing of old arguments. For the sake of the dead, for the sake of the living, and even for the sake of honoring this grim milestone — the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history — we should remember that there are times when silence is the best response.
Events like these are almost impossible to react to sanely. A group of people you don’t know have been killed in a senseless crime. Too young to have established much of a past, they’ve been robbed of present and future; the weight of the offense, the rotten meaninglessness of it, makes it awkward not to have something to say.
The editorial notes that there will be discussions about gun control and other political issues, but concludes: “There will be time for both in the days to come. But now is a time to respect, quietly, the tears and the pain of this terrible event.”
Along with the rest of our country and the world, all of us at the God’s Politics blog send our condolences and prayers to the families and friends of those who died, and to the entire Virginia Tech community. We pray that the comforting presence of God will be felt in the midst of this unexplainable tragedy.