Endless Search Will Never Cease By STEPHEN LAUTENS Sat, May 5, 2007
As human beings, we are always looking for meaning.
It’s not just religion, although humans have been looking for that kind of meaning ever since we saw our first flash of lightning or volcano tens of thousands of years ago.
Aside from the great questions of existence, we’ve tried to understand plagues, natural disasters, poverty, war and all the other things mankind has lived with.
In our day-to-day life, we try to understand what it is all about, from our spouse giving us a funny look to why some politician stands up and tells us something he knows isn’t true.
We do our best with religion, science, psychology and the rest, and have done pretty well for a pretty simple and easily distracted land mammal.
We’ve unravelled the mysteries of DNA, poked around the solar system and have even come up with a diet vodka that isn’t that bad.
Trying to figure things out has generally improved the quality of our lives.
At least we’re able to sleep a little better at night knowing the world generally has some meaning, even when it isn’t obvious to us today.
On the other hand, one of the hardest things for us to understand is that sometimes things are simply meaningless no matter how much we try to understand them.
Basically we feel cheated when there isn’t an answer.
In the face of senseless tragedy or disaster some fall back on the old “it’s all part of God’s plan” and we’re not to know what it’s all about until we’ve sprouted wings and are sitting on a cloud playing a harp when all will be revealed.
The dust has begun to settle a little after the Virginia Tech shootings that left 30 dead.
The pain and anguish of the victims’ families and friends will never go away, but I can’t help but think it must feel all the worse because the tragedy is essentially meaningless.
The usual “experts,” commentators, journalists, special interest groups and politicians all jumped on the bandwagon to “learn the lesson” from Virginia Tech.
In the aftermath, we heard from the people who explained the tragedy as the result of racism, violent video games, or not enough mental health funding.
It gives everyone a chance to advance their own personal causes.
The prize has to go to the store owner where the shooter bought his guns, who said the lesson to be learned wasn’t that crazy people can get guns (the killer ticked off the box on the firearms application that said he had no mental illness, after all), but that if everyone on campus had a gun in their knapsack, someone would have plugged him before he got that far.
So his creative answer to the massacre is apparently more guns.
The sad fact is that there is no lesson to be learned here.
The 23-year old suspect, Cho Seung-Hui, had mental problems and access to guns.
Not a great combination.
It’s hard enough to predict what normal people will do on any given day, let alone someone fighting their own mental demons and living in a crazy world no one else has access to.
It doesn’t mean we stop trying to understand.
That goes against our nature as inquisitive apes with larger than average brains, and we find it offensive that some things are simply tragically meaningless, no matter how terrible.
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