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And We Mourn for the Americans…

“We are all Hokies today,” said one email to an American sports radio show today, as the chatter about bad calls and draft prospects was cut off at the knees by the word out of Blacksburg, Virginia. Yes, Virginia Tech’s athletic teams are the Hokies, but nobody’s thinking much about spring football or the basketball season just past. “There’s somethin’ ’bout Mondays always makes me blue,” Steve Earle was just singing out of my stereo. The grim curtain of violence has just fallen again in the United States. Somehow, thirty-three dead in Virginia hits harder than another Baghdad bombing statistic, but we’re all human. The hurting is everywhere, but it’s hitting the Americans especially hard today.

This particular bit of grimness is farther away for us in Canada, but only good luck and good policing prevented a similar death toll in our own college shooting last fall. (I wrote about Dawson College here. The feeling is the same today.) Education and gunshots make a horrifying juxtaposition. I grieve for those students hurt in body and soul. I try not to imagine the parents of VaTech students, waiting and wondering, and especially for those who don’t wonder anymore.

The words of Bahá’u’lláh, 19th-century Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, come to mind as we all ask, like sports-talk jock Jim Rome did today, “What the hell is going on?” Just before the dawn of the 20th century, with all its apocalyptic confusion, Bahá’u’lláh — a Persian nobleman tortured, jailed and exiled for teaching the oneness of humanity and the renewal of civilization — wrote this:

The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day….How long will humanity persist in its waywardness? How long will injustice continue? How long is chaos and confusion to reign amongst men? How long will discord agitate the face of society? The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divides and afflicts the human race is daily increasing. The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appears to be lamentably defective…”

We will know more, and it will likely make us sick. May it also make us work for the betterment of the world and the well-being of our communities.

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