I am kind of, no not kind of, absolutely sick of the media depiction of the Virginia Tech shootout already. The event was terrible! Yes! The whole incident is absolutely tragic! The magnitude of the event is horrific! We recognise that. We grieve.
What I don’t like about the representation of this event is how Cho Seung-Hui is represented as some kind of heartless killing monster. Okay, now this is the part where I don’t necessarily win any friends…Yes, his deeds were awful, abominable, reprehensible but I can’t help thinking that somehow, we failed him. I mean, to be that tormented, to be that angry…what had he seen, what had he read, what had he experienced to make him feel so desperate that killing became an option? An heroic option.
I am in no way saying that what Cho Seung-Hui did is okay. It is not okay. Ever. But I recognise in Cho Seung-Hui’s eyes a hopelessness that, but for the grace of God, I would feel every day. Every single day.
I don’t want to see the NBC news footage, I don’t want to see videos of the event, I don’t want to get inside Cho Seung-Hui’s head and figure out why he did it. The images of his face are enough. Looking into his eyes I see the pain, the anger, the hurt, the utter hopelessness and I know there have been times when I have felt it too.
The cover of The Sydney Morning Herald today depicted passport type photographs of each of the victims placed over a picture of Cho Seung-Hui’s face in the background. The visual representation graphically showed how we view perpetrators and victims: the victims are innocent the perpetrator is guilty; the victims are human – they smile – the perpetrator is inhuman – his face is contorted with anger and hatred. Sure, the victims were killed while innocently going about their daily lives, while the perpetrator committed a terrible crime. I acknowledge all of this but still I wonder… what if we’re not all that different to Cho Seung-Hui? What if we all kill things we love every day maybe not with 30 bullets but with words, looks, actions and intentions.
I think this is how God views us. Actually, I don’t think it, I’m pretty sure of it. We’re all closer to Cho Seung-Hui than we’d like to admit. After all the Bible tells us that we are responsible for Christ’s death…but fortunately we can be forgiven and escape the anguish of a lonely hurt filled existence. I know that my life has changed because I now know that God takes seriously the suffering we feel in this world. It was such a big deal to Him that He, in His goodness, stretched out His own arm to save us by subjecting His Son to a death that should have been ours. Through this God shows His amazing love for us – all of us.
I know we mourn and grieve and this is right – we should. But as we pray and grieve for the victims and their families, can’t we mourn for Cho Seung-Hui too? Can’t we pray that God have mercy on his tormented soul? As well as on ours?
This is not how life was meant to be.