Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

Caution: Emotionally distressing video about the Virginia Tech shootings

Right now we're in the "investigative" and "speculative" portion of this tragedy. Everything this shooter ever said, did, or wrote in the form of a school paper, assignment, phone call, face to face conversation, email or blog post is under close scrutiny. Everyone has something to say about this guy, no matter how well they knew him.

We're all arm-chair judges and juries.

It made me wonder though, what would people find if they went through my emails of the past 5 years or other documents on my computer, talked to my friends, barely acquaintences, or even colleagues who had maybe just one interaction with me. What kind of profile would those pieces of evidence present?

Often, we do, say, and write things that we don't expect or intend anyone else to ever know about. Our secret lives are just that - secret. People on the outside never know we're struggling until we can no longer hide it. By the time we find out, it's usually too late.

This is true for my children and for my students. No one wants you to see them struggle, to see their mess. But at some point, it's too messy to hide and it all comes out like the junk stuffed ceiling high in a closet. An avalanche of pain.

There's no excuse for this shooter's actions. But I've learned that every person on this planet is only one choice away from doing something just as horrific. None of us is immune.