Lessons from Blacksburg
By Richard Crocker, College Chaplain
Published on Friday, April 20, 2007
To the Editor:
We mourn the deaths of students and faculty at Virginia Tech ("Virginia Tech gunman kills 32 in bloodbath," April 17). It is appropriate and natural that we should do so. We identify with the victims and their friends and families, because they are like us. They are students and staff at a university in a very pastoral location. Our own sense of security is threatened by this violence.
Already, in e-mails and blogs, I am hearing calls for greater college security, ranging from arming campus police to allowing students to arm themselves. Our sense of invulnerability at Dartmouth has, despite some very tragic events, remained rather strong. Last year I attended my son's graduation from a college in New York City; all guests went through metal detectors and had their belongings examined. This is, of course, a great contrast to the Dartmouth graduation.
While I understand that conversations about campus security will inevitably, and perhaps productively, occur, I hope that one important fact does not get ignored: senseless violence is horrible wherever it occurs, whether in Darfur or Israel or Palestine or Iraq. The deaths at Virginia Tech are devastating, but their number is a fraction of those being killed daily in Iraq or Darfur. This does not mean that we should grieve these students' deaths less; rather, it means that we should grieve all violent deaths more. And, unless our grief produces opposition to violence, it is futile. Every life lost at Virginia Tech was precious; the loss is incalculable. But every life lost to violence anywhere is equally precious. Let us remember, and speak.