I have been travelling for work for the past two days, which means that I have been away from the TV as the horror at Virginia Tech unfolded yesterday. I was aware of what was going on--but have not watched the incessant follow-up coverage. I was therefore struck with the following post by David Kuo, who offers sound advice about how we should deal with tragedies like the shootings at Virginia Tech:
Turn it off today. Turn off CNN and Fox and MSNBC. Don't go surfing for more information. Don't listen to all the people talking. Don't let the media do it for you.
There is this temptation with our saturated news to immerse yourself in it because immersion feels like action, immersion feels involvement, immersion feels like empathy. Watching sobbing students and parents and doctors somehow makes us feel closer to this tragedy. But there is also an enormous risk to it as well - that it paralyzes us, absorbs all of our time, and prevents us from doing the things that we need to do to help those we can impact - those who are around us.
As a news junkie this is something of a novel concept to me. But it is one that was encouraged by an email I got from a friend who runs a tutoring program. She wrote,
"So many are asking what can we do to stop the continued random acts of violence. There are no easy answers, but I say to all of you..... each time you bring yourself through the doors of Immaculate Conception Church, on a Tuesday night... even after a long and tiring day..... that hour and half you spend with a child or young person, is the best ammunition we have against the enemies continued attempts to rob us of precious lives. Every open book. Every math problem solved. Every paragraph read. Every checker game played... serves to keep our kids safe as we love and nurture them and prayerfully bring them to a place where they will never be the one with a gun in their hands. Instead they will spend their lives being agents of peace."
Yet we can only do those things if we have time and the emotional and spiritual energy needed to give of ourselves. Surrounding ourselves with the unending symphony of horror around tragedies like this one a few hundred miles from me in Virginia robs us of that energy.
Please hear what I am not saying. I am not saying we should be indifferent. I am not saying we shouldn't feel the horror of it. I am not saying we shouldn't feel everything we are feeling. I am saying that the best way for us to do that is to do it through prayer, do it through loving those around us, do it by living and not by listening. Our compassion is not directly related to our consumption of news about an event. There is stuff that we can do today... let's do it.
This is wise counsel. Let's turn off our televisions, put away our newspapers, and do something constructive about the tragic events that we read about every day.