Sunday, April 22, 2007

Healing and the Virginia Tech Massacre

On Monday this country witnessed a horrific massacre at Virginia Tech where 33 individuals were killed and 15 injured when a young Korean went on a shooting spree. It caught all of our attention as this country grieves for the loss of life and witnesses the pain so many families and loved ones are enduring. When anything like this occurs we need to pay attention to it and raise our consciousness in order to make the needed changes our society needs to grapple with.

There are few meaningful words that can be said when a tragedy like this occurs. Our natural instinct is to think about and pray for the victims and their families and the friends and loved ones who have been deeply touched by this act of murder. Our thoughts should go here. And at the same time we should not be so shocked since this violence is only the latest in a long list of such tragedies in the United States. We only need to look to last October when shootings took place at the Amish schoolhouse and in 1999 the killings at Columbine High School. Although each attack is different there is a common thread. Those doing the killing wanted to kill as many people as possible before taking their own lives.

The question that we all need to ask is have such incidents become part of the fabric of our society and is there a deep strain of violence in our culture? What in our society is promoting such violence? Why do we allow ourselves to be bombarded with violence on our TV’s, movies video games, all of which we know entices more violence? Should we have tighter gun control? The truth is we are supporting a culture of violence within our society which is reflected in our thinking and in our actions. This violence if not addressed will only grow like a cancer eventually destroying everything in its wake.

All those touched by the tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech will began a healing process unique to each individual. Not to allow people time to experience their natural and noble instincts to feel rage and grief actually deprives them of the ability to heal in the long run. After the shock wears off there will be lots of anger. This should be expected and in order to heal completely no one can skip any steps. Those touched by grief need to mourn to get past this painful time. It is my hope that for all those that who are suffering and want to be freed from their emotional pain that when ready will consider the possibility of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about letting the shooter off the hook which is what so many people think it means. Forgiveness is about being willing to let go of your own pain by releasing the past. Holding on to anger and possibly hatred will not give you what you want or bring back your loved one. It will only perpetuate more cycles of violence. Forgiveness can not change what happened, only possibly the way you view what has happened, and by having the willingness to see the situation differently you can bring inner peace to your soul.

Dr. Eileen R. Borris
Author Finding Forgiveness: A Seven Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

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