By now the whole world is aware of the tragedy that has befallen the community at Virginia Tech. For all of us here in the States, it's a reminder that "safety" is really the space between one person's bad day and another person's good luck. But the bigger lesson here is one that's replayed in history for years, most recently in the post-9-11 era.
The concept of staying put is at the backbone of the current American psyche. An airplane crashes into one of the tallest buildings in the world yet people in the facing tower are told to resume work and ignore the flames and smoke just a few feet away from them. A war drags on for four years with no evidence of any stump to the global threat of terrorism and still a country "stays the course" for, um, freedom. For years people have been able to purchase semiautomatic weapons, even after Columbine and a slew of other school shootings, and still no one sees a reason to make it a little harder to obtain weapons.
The resolution of the American people - to live and breathe for work, to fight wars out of fear and greed, to bemoan senseless violence while sanctioning the vehicles that make mass murder possible - is a death pact.
What is it about Americans that makes us feel immortal? When did we lose our sense of vulnerability and instead stare down the prospect of imminent death with a smugness befitting thugs and animals? At Virginia Tech classes went on in spite of reports that a shooting had taken place at a dorm. Five years into the "war on terror" and our surveillance-happy society can't stop a rogue wacko from becoming the hot topic of the 24-hour infotainment networks.
Over the next few weeks the networks will pummel us with exclusive interviews, glimpses into the lives that were and then.... Legislators will bemoan the tragedy, some will call for gun control, others will evoke the 2nd Ammendment, everyone will tell us that we must go on.
Or, more simply, stay put.