Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On Monsters and Heroes

I thought that I might have something intelligent to say about the young man who shot up the Virginia Tech campus yesterday. I must say that the news was genuinely distressing and my heart goes out to the families of the wounded and deceased.

One item that interested me was the story of Liviu Librescu, a 76-year old engineering professor and Holacaust survivor. Dr. Livrescu barricaded the door of his classroom with his own body, allowing some of his students to escape. In the process Dr. Livrescu was killed by the gunman. This, ladies and gentlemen, makes Dr. Livrescu an honest-to-goodness hero. I include his picture below to remind us that remarkable human beings are moving amongst us every day, unbeknownst to many of us.


I have to go on about this. Does Dr. Livrescu look like a hero? How much time do you think he had to decide whether or not to barricade the door with his body? You can visit the doctor's website and see a list about ten pages long of publications in his field. Where do people like this come from?

In addition, I would like to comment on the cultural reaction to such events. It is indeed shocking that such a person can dwell in our midst unknown to us. Crazy people are nothing new, although they may be more numerous now than in previous eras. I'm afraid that the cultural knee-jerk reaction to this is to become more isolated, be it physically or spiritually.

Yet another cultural paradox we exhibit in the West is the propensity to breed monsters combined with an almost non-existent ability to deal with horror. I would propose that the two are not unrelated. It may sound trite or perhaps unusual, but I believe an essential component of healing from this process is taking responsibility for it. Public prayer is necessary to request healing and forgiveness. This act is primarily the responsibility of the gunman, but not his alone. Remember: we all live in a yellow submarine.

I don't believe that a large-scale public prayer event is forthcoming. In its absence, all we can do is pray individually or in whatever groups we can muster. For those who are conscious of such things, it is essential that we pray and not become discouraged. For that is really what those behind this act want you to do.

We can be grateful that when a monster surfaces, heroes like Dr. Livrescu surface to give us hope.

3 comments:

CaLiFoRnIaCuTiE333 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CaLiFoRnIaCuTiE333 said...

We had a vigil on my campus today for all who were involved in the shootings. I thought that was interesting that the teacher survived the holocaust and then cared enough about his students to help them get out of harms way. I find it moving that in this crazy world we are in today that even in terrible times there are people out there for the good!

SacraMentalPatient said...

"The horror...the horror.." - Col William Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

This-Liberal wrote: "Yet another cultural paradox we exhibit in the West is the propensity to breed monsters combined with an almost non-existent ability to deal with horror."

As a holocost survivor, I am sure Liviu Librescu had seen enough of it during his time under the jackboot of Nazi Germany to know the realities of horror under a dictatorship by monsters of men. Unfortunately, a whole generation of those who have had this type of experience are sadly passing-away, leaving us with little to no voices to remind us of this reality. We need to always be mindful that in this post-modern age of increasing disconnectedness and isolation (ironicaly, in a more-connected and wired-in information age of global internet communications) we need to retain our empathy for our neighbor and remember that not only logic and reason will prevail, but charity and the ability to stay connected in community and in communion with one-another in our real-life communities. This, I feel, is what will keep us in a truer sense of humanity.