(First written 4/17/07)
It’s the day after the shootings at Virginia Tech. Sporadically, we catch snippets of how our country, and the world is reacting and responding. We spent the day breaking our gaspers in Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. That is reality. Millions (?billions) of years in the making. I will work on the photos I took tomorrow. Meanwhile, this incident, so major for the moment, is doubtless less than a grain of sand in the grand scheme of things, but for now it is huge. The world has reacted to the shootings on the issue of gun control. What is wrong with the US? Why do we love guns and violence so? Does our country see freedom only as the ability of the individual to violate the community? That’s absurd.
Virginia Tech so far has responded admirably. Professor Nikki Giovanni wrote and read a poem about the Hokies, resounding with the words: “We are Virginia Tech!” . It is clear that the college community wants to make something good come of this tragedy. The news media coverage is mixed. The talking heads are happy they have a big story to focus on. They can publicly scratch their humanity and exude empathy.
I listen to reports of how young people are responding. On YouTube, on MySpace, and other Internet social places. Makes me reflect on the person I was at that age. I do not know that me. I am no longer that person. I cannot draw her up into my consciousness. She sits across the gulf of my experience. I am unable to imagine what it was like to be so experienceless. I cannot stand in that person’s shoes. I cannot see out of that person’s life window. I raise my hand and look at it. The veins stand out, the skin is weathered, the lines display age. Did I ever look at my hand when it was young? With taut sweet skin. What thoughts did that hand elicit? Was it the same hand? I do not know.