Some tragedies are more equal than others


The attack at Virginia Tech this week was horrible. I feel it more acutely than a random person since I grew up in Virginia. My brother, my sister-in-law, and many of my friends and neighbors are part of the Virginia Tech family. It is a tragedy to be sure. I can't imagine how I would cope with losing a friend or family member this way.

The reason why this is a tragedy is because the men and women who were killed are image-bearers of Christ. They were created to reflect his glory. The killed were not able to do that for as long as they possibly could have. From a human perspective we have a sense that there could have been more for them. We know the pain that their loss will entail. God's glory through his creation could have been more. For the killer we struggle to understand why his life was not redeemed and if we failed in being part of his redemption in Christ. Our failure, personal and corporate, cause us to worry that we have fallen short.

The President and the media have suggested that no one deserved this. This is true in the sense that the victims weren't threatening the killer or doing anything remarkable that day. That message is politically appropriate and in the short run a psychological salve, but as we try and make sense of big-E evil and our place among the tragedy, I believe that it's wrong. We all deserve this. We deserve it because of our failures and because we have fallen short. From the Godly perspective of perfection, we fail and in that failure we affront God. Justice demands that there be compensation. We should daily be living a life of repentance and joy because by God's grace we are not going through pain like this all the time and we have another day to be part of the redemption of our world.

Finally I can't help but comment on the hypocrisy of America. Where is the outpouring of sympathy for the moms and children, dads and professors, athletes, engineers, and soldiers who were killed in Baghdad today? 4 times as many -just today - as if the absolute numbers matter. If people are image bearers of Christ, then being killed is no less tragic when you are Iraqi than when you are an American. Lives, just as valuable, were cut short in Iraq today as well. God's creation in Iraq was destroyed without realizing the potential that other equal lives do. It is appropriate to mourn the tragedy at VA Tech. When will we also lower the flag to half-staff for all the people whose lives are cut short? Especially when, unlike VA Tech, the threat is clear, unlike VA Tech, we have clearly decided it is our problem, and when, unlike VA Tech, it is much less clear whether or not we deserve the burden of shouldering the pain.


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