Wednesday, April 18, 2007

JMO - Rage

Rage is a normal human emotion and reaction. We all have expressed rage at a situation, at a person or group, or some circumstances. We often just use the word anger instead of rage, because rage is the extreme expression of anger, or even happiness at times. So, before we begin to demonize a young man for a violent act, we need to stop and let the dust settle, when we can see things in a better light and try to understand the rage of the young man in Virginia.

Am I defending him? No, I'm trying to understand him, and I'm a little angry at the immediate reaction of people to describe him as "strange" or "a loner." I don't doubt that something was amiss in this view of the world, and clearly something snapped, but it took awhile to get there, and likely it has been building for years. And nobody offered enough help to understand his life in this country. So, let's take a look at the whole than the act itself.

And why should we? Well for one, I'm a loner, and there are millions of people who are loners, but we're not strange and we're not anymore capable of violent acts than the whole population. It's a misplaced description for a troubled young man, who came here with his family from Korea. We owe this young man some understanding of his history to see what went wrong. It may have started years before, and even when he came here and didn't understand our society. It's hard to discern when personality problems triggers rage.

And while he may have been lashing out at his circumstances, in some ways he's no different than anyone expressing rage through violence against people. We had a situation here in Seattle where a young man killed a small number of people after a party where he felt humilated. And what do we say when a man kills his family and then himself? It's a matter of numbers, the focus of their anger, and the opportunity to commit harm.

I wouldn't necessarily say we should emphasize his writings too much. While they showed signs of trouble, how many other stories, books, plays, etc. have been written around similar violence? Stephen King? And? Some people use writing to alleviate one's anger, often with success in their career. Occasionally, however, writings are signs than therapy. It's a matter of perspective.

My point? I'm not justifying the act, and I'm not defending the young man. I'm as horrified and saddened as everyone. I'm only saying to keep a level head and get the whole picture of the young man to understand why he may have acted as he did toward other students and faculty. And I would simply add, that we should also look at ourselves in a society where guns are so easily available. Without that, it would have been a different result.

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