A Time to Heal
April 18, 2007
We know all we need to know about Cho Seung Hui, the deeply troubled young man who killed 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech before turning a gun on himself. Some questions will never be answered, and some answers only reveal themselves in time. We can wait.
The feeding frenzy is in full froth today, with new revelations that Cho sent a package of self-glorifying materials to NBC News during the two-hour gap between the first two shootings and the awful spree of violence that killed and wounded many more. That's all the evidence I need that those who continue to pursue this story are playing into the twisted plot of a sociopath.
I've read a few of this guy's plots, posted on the internet by a former classmate. They weren't very good. This one is much worse.
So just stop. Time to pack up and go home. Remember Hippocrates: "If you can do no good, at least do no harm." It's time now to reflect on the lives lost. To grieve. To heal.
There is nothing to learn from Cho Seung Hui and nobody else to blame. It's terribly frustrating to admit that, foolish to deny it, yet the morbid curiosity in all of us runs deep. We should resist that as we resist any other hurtful temptation.
Are there lessons we can learn from the lives of those innocent people who were killed? You know there are. I know the story of only one, so powerful that it's been repeated around the world in the hours since the shooting ended.
You probably know it, too. It's about a 76-year-old professor, a respected teacher and researcher in aeronautical engineering, survivor of the Nazi holocaust in his native Romania, loving husband, father of two. He shooed students out the windows of his Norris Hall classroom and blocked the door with his own body. He died for that. I would have been proud to know that man.
The one who killed him was lost long ago to all of us, even to those who loved him and cradled him in their arms and in their hearts. I grieve for them, too. Only compassion can counteract the inflamed passions of hate and misunderstanding that brought this about. So let's speak no more of his delusions, and linger on this only to recall and praise the good words and good deeds of all whose lives end too soon.
Remember Liviu Librescu. Learn what you can about his life and his true character, and about the lives and true character of others who also suffer, only to grow out of their suffering. Let the distorted self-image of that other poor child fade and disappear like smoke on the wind.
Good people have earned our remembrance, and all even the living deserve to rest in peace.
April 18, 2007