Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I blame the shooter

In light of what happened yesterday in Blacksburg, I know there will be finger pointing today. I should hope we will take time to remember that life is short and that our days are numbered. Remember the end, the brokenness of life, and groan for newness.

But if we must blame, do not forget to blame to bad guys. There will be a lot of time to improve campus security, argue about whether guns make our lives more or less dangerous, and uncover a conspiracy. Don't do these things yet.

Blame the shooter. Remember that he shot people and killed them. Call evil deeds evil. All the other people, the campus police especially, are on the side of good guys. If they made mistakes, we will have time to address those things. But one man determined to kill his peers and himself. Against him we have no real deterrent.

We live in a kind of compact with each other. When we pass on the road, I do not swerve to hit you. I don't poison you drink at mealtimes. I don't shoot you when I'm angry. You extend me the same courtesy. This man at Virginia Tech abandoned that compact.

How do you stop a man who wants to kill and to die? Are there enough police in the world to stop him? How do we approach society knowing that there are shooters out there?

Civil security is based on the idea that most people will abide by the compact. Statistically, this idea is sound. In particular cases, it is terribly false. The choice that faces us is to what extent we will continue to abide by the compact and trust one another.

Instapundit quoted Roger Kimball this morning. Kimball recalled a Roman historian (Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, a Roman Sun Tzu for those of you keeping score) who advised "si vis pacem, para bellum:" if you want peace, prepare for war. I believe that the Roman general was right, but I am not sure that I am willing to follow his advice. Perhaps peace and security are not our highest aims as individuals.

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