Rabbi Grossman asks where God was found in last week’s horrific massacre at Virginia Tech, and I was touched by her portrayal of God made manifest in the acts of heroism and self-sacrifice by students and teachers at Virginia Tech, even as the bullets flew around them. And yet, as I try to make sense of this inexplicable tragedy, I can’t help thinking that there is another place where God was found as well: in the face of each and every student and professor–created in God’s image–who was murdered that morning. Thirty-two times, God’s image was desecrated that morning, and then a 33rd as Cho Seung-Hui took his own life, bringing to a close an incomprehensible orgy of destruction. As the smoke cleared, God’s blood-spattered image was all too evident.
How did it come to this? To me it is terrifying that Cho Seung-Hui, a person with a history of mental illness and violent tendencies, was able to walk into a gun store and walk out with weapons and ammunition capable of instantly turning a deranged individual into a mass murderer. It is horrifying that we live in a country where lethal handguns are legal and readily available, where states like Virginia allow people to carry concealed weapons and to purchase multiple firearms at a gun show without even giving their name, and where the National Rifle Association stymies efforts to place even the most basic, common-sense controls on gun ownership.
Writing in this week’s New Yorker, Adam Gopnik points out that other countries that experienced mass shootings such as England, Canada, and France have responded by tightening gun laws and, as a result, have prevented such horrific events from recurring. America, by contrast, has suffered and grieved through the Columbine shootings, the execution of Amish schoolchildren six months ago, last week’s rampage at Virginia Tech, so many countless others, and then done nothing. So much carnage, so many times God’s image has been obliterated in an instant because of easy access to handguns. When will we finally stop the madness and allow God’s image to flourish once again?
Read the Full Debate: God & The Virginia Tech Shooting