We live in an “instant” society; it’s the downside of technological advance to think we can solve everything. Now. We crank out bestsellers about the “secret” of success, the “path” to enlightenment, the “key” to wealth, the “recipe” for health, and the “fast track” to happiness — as if we can really formulize everything. It’s no wonder that we bring the same mentality to events like the Virginia Tech massacre.
Dennis Prager, in an article entitled, It’s Too Early for Healing, suggests that, instead of rushing for explanations and answers, we must give ourselves time to stew.
Within hours of the massacre of more than 30 people at Virginia Tech University, the president of the university issued his first statement on the evil that had just engulfed the college campus and concluded with this:
“We’re making plans for a convocation tomorrow at noon in Cassell Coliseum for the university to come together to begin the healing process from this terrible tragedy.”
Other university officials also spoke about beginning the healing process and about bringing in counselors to help students heal.
I believe that this early healing talk is both foolish and immoral.
It is foolish because one does not speak about healing the same day (or week or perhaps even month) that one is traumatized — especially by evil. One must be allowed time for anger and grief. To speak of healing and “closure” before one goes through those other emotions is to speak not of healing but of suppression.
Not to allow people time to experience their natural, and noble, instincts to feel rage and grief actually deprives them of the ability to heal in the long run. After all, if there is no rage and grief, what is there to heal from?
Prager’s piece is brief and very persuasive. I highly encourage you read it in its entirety.
Over the next few weeks we will cover familiar ground. Memorials will be set up, heroes will be uncovered, individual stories will unfold, a psychological profile will be constructed, second-guessing will begin and, possibly, lawsuits will be filed. No doubt a discussion will start about campus security, how to identify the disturbed, violence in pop culture and, of course, gun laws. In other words, society will begin developing its “formula” for healing.
Like the world’s formula has ever really worked.
Perhaps we need something more — a time to grieve about the absolute brokenness of our culture, that no amount of technology or medicine or psycho-babble has healed us, that higher education cannot transform the human heart, and that real evil exists. Maybe then we can comfort the afflicted and genuinely heal. But until we give ourselves to this kind of solemn introspection, spiritual humility and non-politicized policy-making, we will only be concocting another instant answer.