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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf Tech? (Part One)

"Guns don't kill people, people do!"

Ummm,,, yeahhhhh,,, but it's not that simple, is it?

How many pieces are there in this equation? Just three?
- Killer
- Weapon
- Victim
IMHO, there's at least one more piece, which encompasses a huge variety of stuff and overlaps with the above factors. I'll get to that in due time. [In Part Two!]

But first, let's just play along with the premise of the above quote, which shifts the focus [and blame!] squarely on the shoulders of the killer.

Thought, word and deed

All actions we undertake are the result of the chain of occurrences involving thought, word and deed. So for someone whose train of thought is chugging away along a homicidal track, having the opportunity of PREVENTION at every step will go a long way to derailing or turning back that train.
    At the thought level, a huge portion of prevention rests on having a well developed internal value system [usually provided by religion*...] in line with society in general: but if we grow up being told that killing is wrong / a sin and yet we observe too many examples where killing is not only ok, but a must, or "is cool", or just plain happens all the time, how do we reconcile this internally? Where do we draw our line? Why?

    At the word level, the killer is communicating intention to harm, or indicating potential capability to harm . Perhaps the communication isn't cogent and coherent, but it does happen. This is an opportunity for intervention, but this involves other people - family, friends, colleagues, strangers - who would a) notice, b) understand/recognize, and c) do something. And to have these other people to get to "c" is admittedly tough in this and age [for a variety of reasons we won't go into]. And beyond these "filters", the few potential killers who make it past all of them will probably get into the the mental health system - and how effective is that in treating them???

    At the deed level, the killer then puts thoughts and words into action: gets armed, and does the deed. So gun control fits as a preventive step here, one of many prevention measures required at this weapons acquisition stage: after all, guns are not the *only* weapons out there! And finally, when actually carrying out the deed, the police and other similar services then serve as both preventive and reactive functions. It looks like prevention at this stage is a function of established "systems", although it is important to remember that systems are created and run by people, and will thus have flaws in both.
[Note that the above triune perspective works whether a killing is spur-of-the-moment or meticulously planned. A bit more about that in Part Two.]

At this stage I find myself forced to digress from my original post intention [hence requiring a Part Two], because me being me, "solutions" are jumping out at me and clamouring to be addressed.

What we, as general individuals, can do:
  1. examine our own value system*: how consistent are we? what sort of example are we, whether to our children, or people in general? Figure out what you stand for, and live it! No more lip service, please!
  2. similarly, examine the messages/examples being communicated by others: a major factor here is of course the media! Have you really thought about any conflicts between your values and those trumpeted by the propaganda-spewing yet tabloid-like news reports?

  3. And if children are involved, and you're having trouble with #1, perhaps some "positive hypocrisy" might be better than mixed messages? But still need to be consistent!! As for #2, I know many choose to control media access, which works for the young'uns but such restrictions will certainly backfire as soon as the kids are able to rebel. A much more valuable action -- when children are capable of intelligent conversation -- is to encourage discussion *about* the conflicting messages of media vs values: after all, teaching your child to think critically provides a valuable skill needed through life!

  4. To quote the CTA: "If you see something, say something!" But say to whom? Well, you need to figure that out for yourself, depending on what you are comfortable with. "But what's the use?", you ask. Lecturers in Virginia Tech had actually referred Cho Seung-Hui to Mental Health services due to his disturbing behaviour and "creative writing" output, but it's unclear [to me; I haven't read deeply of the details] whether anything was really done. Ditto about his stalking history. But you know what? That's others who [might have] dropped the ball. But if everyone who avoided "mr question mark" had expressed their disquiet with the relevant authorities, perhaps the sheer volume might have gotten the ball picked up again? Who knows,,, no use getting hung up on What Ifs. And I'm certainly not saying we should get even more paranoid than we already are. What I'm saying is, do your part, don't just think that "Oh, someone else should do it, it's not my problem." What happened in Virgina Tech shows just how much it *can* become your problem!

By the time we get to deed, as "individuals in general" about all we can do is educate ourselves, voice our opinions and push for change where change is needed. Like I mentioned earlier, by this time it looks like prevention seems to be in the hands of "systems", and just how flawed are these systems created and run by people who might have political and personal biases that overshadow the the true function of health care, gun control, police or whatever? Are the systems themselves slaves to administrators, bureaucracy and red tape that negate the true function they were supposed to serve? Can people within the system fix things? Do we need to throw out the system and start anew? Is there anything we can do about it? All I can think of is that no matter what, systems are made of individuals, and if this collection of individuals do the self-questioning etc above, perhaps they can make the difference required so these systems actually do serve their intended purpose...

It boils down to all of us as individuals doing the right* thing.
... While educating our kids
.. While interacting with others
... While doing our jobs
.. While living our life.

So back to the premise of shifting blame totally on the shooter/killer: bullshit.

More in Part Two.
I'll let this simmer a day or two, though, just because.
    * NOTE; yes, "right"/"value system" seem relative, and may mean totally opposite things to two different cultures, usually as a result of their different religious beliefs. My take on this is, if I could get them to cut through the crap and just look inward, challenge their own precepts and traditions, and see if their actions really jive with the spirit of their religion, with their ultimate inner compass, I think there might be some hope. After all, do you not believe that if Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad and other religion-establishers were put in the same room, they would embrace each other and recognise the similarity of their messages, while if you were to put their followers in the same room they'd end up killing each other? Call me idealist, but I think a lot of problems in this world can be solved if only we had the awareness to seek our true selves, and the courage to face up to what we find; and then to help others with the same journey.

    Heh. This seems more appropriate fodder for another forum. Maybe I'll repost this elsewhere too ;-)

p/s> h/t Monsoon for triggering this post. yes, pun intended. sorry.


  1. Interesting reading. Looking forward to part two! And I do get you on some of this...

    But sorry, though I may speak English quite well, I do not understand the "pun intended" thing, not completely. Could you explain it to me?

    And I hope I didn't offend you, or anyone for that matter, about me thinking that Americans, (some of them)seem gun crazy. You have to see it from my point of view. I've never seen a gun or any firearm in my whole life. No one I know own a firearm. I do know that hunters are licensed to use a certain type, but that's all... So for us, looking at USA, it seems like guns are a "natural" part for some of the inhabitants.

    Monsoon :-)

  2. hi monsoon!

    what I'm getting at [and it's gonna take a while to get my thoughts in any sort of hopefully coherent order] is I myself think that guns are a huge part of the problem,,, but they are not the *only* cause,,, and unfortunately too many people seem to focus on just the one thing and ignore other factors.

    But I'm not offended at all by your statement about guns & Americans [I'm not American anyway, LoL!]; in fact, I hear ya bout the whole gun culture thing: I myself think guns are evil nasty devices that i wish had never been invented. But I also know they have their uses, so perhaps it *is* good that they were invented? Aarrgghh! :p See? No easy answers :-(

    And about the pun: well, a trigger is the part of the gun one pulls in order to actually shoot, and as a result of this meaning, it also functions as a verb meaning "to initiate"... so while I had a whole variety of words to chose from to acknowledge that I was finally inspired to share some thoughts on the Virginia Tech topic, I chose to use "trigger" because of the context of guns. Hence the word play, or pun. Hope that clears things up for ya!

  3. Thank you again for your comments. I gonna add you in my Non-Recovery Links, if that is alright with you.

    Heard so much what's happening in VT on my faithful readers' post. For the first time (even though I still 'hate' lock-up before trials thinggy) I 'love' ISA (internal security act) implemented on our exotic beautiful country. Even in our 'Syariah', we advocate prevention is better than cure.

    Greeting from Malaysia.

  4. Yup! Cleard it up for me! It's kinda like a word play. Thanks for clearing it up for me. And I too agree that guns are clearly not the ony problem. Every society has its problems and also its good sides, also every human being. I see that here too; when people are killed, the murderer often blame society, and I can understand it to some degree.
    But how to create a society where the need to use violence and killing people isn't there? I think it is almost impossible. However; it should be possible to lessen the killings to some extent.

    Monsoon :-)


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