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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The If Onlies

Whenever an event like the one in Blacksburg happens, it just makes me feel ill even thinking about it. I work in a school and just can't imagine the horror in a scene like that.

But these kinds of events also leave us with some bad cases of what you might call the If Onlies. If only this, if only that. And when the event involves a gun, you can bet the most prevalent If Onlies will center around the guns: if only we could magically make the guns disappear, if only everyone in that building had been carrying, if only.

Such If Onlies inevitably lead us away from what's important to remember about these events: They are rare, they are random, and they are as unpredictable as they are impossible to stop. Any attempts to fix public policy around them would be as imbicilic as basing your family budget on expected lottery winnings. This was one nut, one disturbed person, one freak who cracked or snapped. Instead of remembering that and mourning the carnage, instead we snipe and try to score cheap points.

Of course, the If Onlies I come up with have nothing to do with guns: If only someone had identified this nut as someone who needed help sooner, if only he'd sought counseling instead of revenge, if only.

None of those make any of the events of yesterday any different, either. But, speaking only as someone who works in a school and who never wants to have to face the horror of a scene like that, let me remind you all: Be the person who asks if someone needs help before they go off on a rampage. Seek help for yourself or others, positive outlets for stress, effective techniques for easing rage.

And keep your thoughts with the families in Virginia, not on the politics.

(Also, Barbara O'Brien, at the end of the post, tells us that this is not, as some are calling it, the worst shooting rampage in US history.)

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