Thursday, April 19, 2007

Conversation on Virginia Tech massacre

A conversation with my company's HR rep puts this event in perspective:

Announcement from company EAP, company HR rep, and me.

Good Afternoon,
In light of the recent shootings at Virginia Tech, United Behavioral Health has posted a Special Alert on the liveandworkwell.com website that links to articles and resources that can help members and their families cope with trauma resulting from this and similar types of violence. Also, the Stress and Anxiety center which is one of the Life Stages Help Center on the homepage has additional articles, links to interactive programs on liveandworkwell as well as other outside resources and websites.

In view of how much more destructive to us it is to do wrong than to suffer wrong, and considering that we as a people are paying $2 billion a week to inflict several of these incidents every single day on the people of Iraq, I don’t even understand the narcissism that makes this one incident such a big deal while the other hundreds of thousands of corpses don’t even matter.

I guess I’ve had lots of practice learning to “cope” these past 4 years!


Hi Peter,

Thanks for your feedback.

I noticed your comment at the end of your email, and was wondering if there was anything I or the EAP could do to assist you. Since I will be in the office today and tomorrow, please let me know if you would like to meet with me to discuss.


Thanks for the offer, but I think that to be pained by the callousness approved of all around me is health. I’m reminded of those German women the Israeli journalist Amira Hass tells of who impassively watched like cows, and unpained, as her parents were being led away to Bergen-Belsen. I find it better to feel much pain every day than to be like that. Others choose otherwise, and to paraphrase Robert Frost, that makes all the difference.

I am reminded by this latest incident that when you don’t hide from the pain of others as Americans do from what they do to others around the world, that refusal to be callous makes the pains inflicted on us hurt less. Put another way, protecting ourselves from psychic pain by hiding from the pains of others – especially those we have a hand in inflicting - makes us suffer far more when something touches our own skins. I don’t see too many around me that have even begun to consider this truth, and I don’t expect much help from anyone who has not begun to do so. The credentials some look for are degrees in psychology and such like. The credentials I look for in those who would help me are evidences of such wisdom.

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