Bloodshed at Virginia Tech

17 Apr

As news began trickling in about the shootings on the Virginia Tech campus yesterday morning, I was most shocked not by the tragedy itself but by the fact that I cared so little about it.

I’m not comfortable about how used I have become to violent death. Yesterday I was talking to my friend, who lived through 9/11 , and we began to discuss things like the spate of suicides that broke out on the NYU campus in Fall of 2003, 9/11, Columbine, etc. I was telling her about the grief counseling sessions that were made mandatory in the dorms post-9/11 and after the suicides in Bobst.

“Are you upset about this incident?” she asked me, referring to VATech.

“Not really,” I confessed. “It feels like just another day, another group of people.”

“I have a number,” she said. “If its more than 100 then I feel it’s fucked up.”

“I don’t have a number,” I replied. “But I do have a quality issue – it becomes a question of how people died. Rape, torture, hacking off limbs…”

It upsets me for days on end when I read about the tactics carried out by African militias, Middle Eastern terrorists, South Asian naxalites, Indian police and yes, American soldiers. But death itself? Oddly enough, the last time I was seriously affected by death by God’s will, it was a numbers issue – the tsunami of 2004.

VATech has brought up the same issues all over again. Is it a gun control problem and do we need to repeal the Second Amendment? Is it reflective of American society? Is it a reason we haven’t thought of yet, but will surely discover once we understand why it happened this time?

I have no answers. But I hope somebody will hit upon them sooner rather than later. Please visit for more updates. This story isn’t going to be done for a long time.

Update – Indian Professor Loganathan amongst those killed. Source

Update II – More details from Glosslip

Update III – New and analysis from the NYT, check out the essay by a Blacksburg writer who used to live in Sierra Leone.

Update IV – Indian student amongst those slain. Source

Update V – No suicide note but his writing was “macabre”. Source


Posted by on April 17, 2007 in News, Politics


2 responses to “Bloodshed at Virginia Tech

  1. meetu

    April 18, 2007 at 3:21 am

    Made me think how I feel about mass killing.

    I think it is also about how closely you are associated with the event? E.g., I was absolutely devastated by the Bombay train blasts July last year. I used to travel by the same trains that ran at those times. I had friends in those trains.

    Rest of the events, I was tense till I knew everyone I knew was okay and then I was fine.

    Is it human or inhuman then, that one only cares for the people they know and the rest are just numbers?

  2. Ed Viswanathan

    May 7, 2007 at 6:16 am

    Namasthe Amrita:

    What happened at Virginia Tech is a tragedy of immense proportions.

    There are no easy answers. Life is indeed very fragile and there are no easy answers to complex problems.

    As Lord Krishna stated in the Bhagavad Gita, “Agama payino, anithya” everything in life comes and goes and it never stays at the same level all the time. That is the nature of things and we have no control of that.

    What happened is the result of the foolish action of a deranged person and it has anything to do with right and wrong or good & evil.

    All those whose lives were prematurely extinguished before their time were just people standing at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    We have to pray as well as console each other. We should specially pray for students at Virginia Tech and their families, who are very much effected by this tragedy.

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