What does VTech tell us?

by francine Hardaway on April 17, 2007

I hate to think that the masses have begun to rise up against the rich, but it looks awfully like that lately. From the killings in Iraq to the American home-grown terrorists, we have seen how the young Muslims hate our culture (even when they consume it). In prisons, gangs attack other gangs. Most of them are young, too. And looking for community anywhere, even in a gang.

At Virginia Tech yesterday, a South Korean student shot 33 people because he felt left out of our culture.

We have spent the past fifty years in America developing a culture of exclusion and exclusivity. From college fraternities to anti-immigrant uprisings, our first impulse has become to exclude, rather than to include. The murderer at VTECH, a legal immigrant, felt excluded, and was angry and depressed by rich people and charlatans on campus. Sure, he was mentally ill, but that doesn’t excuse us. We don’t come together as a community until AFTER the tragedy.

Having been a foster parent, I see how few people are willing to take needy kids into their homes. And when they reach age 18, most foster parents disgorge them back into the streets. I know this because I am helping my three former foster children struggle through their 20’s. They call me in tears when their cars break down, and my job is just to be there and calm them down, to tell them they always have someone to call.

Young people have a tough time dealing with the world alone. They need much stronger communities, communities based on inclusion rather than exclusion.

Time to think about the people around you, and check whether they are feeling alone. It’s a bigger deal than what fraternity you are in, what country club, or what company you work for.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

max April 20, 2007 at 10:44 am

I’d argue that the destructive nature and character of the VT killer is nothing new. Look at Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus: Aaron, a Moor and Goth (ironically) who kills “as willingly as one would kill a fly.(5.1.142)” The difference is that the modern world provides the means for mass massacre and access to those means. As weapons become more efficient and one can obtain them readily, things will only escalate. Really, really sad.

francine hardaway April 20, 2007 at 11:04 am

What a wonderful, erudite comment! Thank you for it.I agree that these things seem to have escalated. I thought maybe it was societal anomie.

Victor Agreda Jr April 27, 2007 at 7:25 am

Very true about our increasing isolation in this world. Although it struck me how many students DID try to reach into his world– too late, it would seem. Some folks are wired for destruction, that much is certain.

Last night ABC ran a piece about parents getting involved in their kids’ lives into their 20’s, going so far as to coddle them while they work… While it is great to have a security blanket, you also have to be independent.

As always, the solution is in the balance of things. We must be social, but private as well. We must be embracing, but independent. Paraphrasing a wise man: there are no solutions to the problems of humans, only approaches to solutions.

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