|01-05-2007 - Traces, n. 5
Loyal to the Nobility of Life
by Giacomo Maniscalco, Santiago Ramos and Francesco Tanzilli
A sad, sad Uncle Sam in today’s Chicago Tribune on the cover of a booklet entitled “Campus Shooting: Virginia Tech,” saying: “Not Again.” But it is “again.” Yes, again, another school in the United States has been the theater of bloodshed. Again, but worse, the worst in our history, the newspaper says. The worst of a long series. This is the most striking fact. When one madman does something mad, you can say, “He’s mad!” and then return to daily life. But this madness has become almost commonplace. The Virginia Tech massacre comes on the threshold of the 8th anniversary of the brutal massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and there are others: Janesboro, Arkansas, 1998, and West Paduka, Kentucky, 1997, to name two more. “Again”–merely the latest in that long, sad series.
The most natural human response to such absurd slaughter is to ask questions. The first answers that come are circumstantial: a college senior at Virginia Tech, an English major, a spurned lover, a disillusioned student. Dig a little deeper and you find an illness: the murderer’s mental condition may have contributed to his crime. Then the voices of the Left and Right make their contributions: the latter talks about violence on television, the former about gun control. All of these answers have something of truth in them, and yet all of them are incomplete or, rather, none of them are enough. We can still ask deeper questions. Why do innocents have to die? What can really drive a person to such madness and cruelty? Why are some people so alone, and fall into such despair? Why?
The English writer George Orwell wrote that “a tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.” Today, to ask “Why?” is almost a well-worn cliché, because the question is always asked and never satisfactorily answered. But the nobility of man lies precisely in his ability to ask the deepest questions, and hunger for an answer to them. The important thing in the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech is to not be satisfied by easy or ideological answers, to not stop asking questions, and to search for an answer that does justice to the nobility of life and humanity that we see in high relief every time it is attacked by such senseless evil.
posted at www.themosquitostings.com
Together with the rest of the country, we have followed with profound sadness the details of Monday’s massacre at Virginia Tech. Nothing can rival the sadness brought about by human life that seems wasted. Who would not echo Pope Benedict XVI’s words to the Virginia Tech community, referring to those events as a “senseless tragedy”?
It is precisely the senselessness of such a tragedy that provokes questions about our human condition, the nature of evil, and the source of hope in the face of the possibility of such evil in our world and our lives. These questions cannot be avoided; they demand real, certain answers.
That Monday’s tragedy–like the tragedy at Columbine–took place in a school, and specifically a university, particularly disturbs us. In precisely these places young people should find the most solid answers to such questions, the most certain paths to the truth of our human condition.
Yet there is a myopic vision of reason–much in vogue in schools and universities– which, in the words of Pope Benedict at the University of Regensburg, relegates “the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics” to the “realm of the subjective.” For the good of the young and the good of our country, it is long since time to critically evaluate this view of reason.
At Regensburg, Pope Benedict spoke of the urgent need for “broadening our concept of reason and its application” in order to avoid the “disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is so reduced that questions of religion and ethics no longer concern it.”
To this end, we strongly urge all those connected to the question of education–including parents–to review and discuss Pope Benedict XVI’s address at the University of Regensburg.
Communion and Liberation, USA
April 20, 2007