Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What Does it Mean?

What will the calamity at Virginia Tech amount to? Will it just go down in the history books as the worst mass murder in modern American history? Already it seems to lose some of the impact that we had with Columbine. Perhaps we were more innocent then. Perhaps in the midst of war we are hardened. While we look for meaning, while we look for reasons, what if there really aren't any? Only because of our believed significance do we attribute meanings and reasons to events that happen in our experience. If we do accept an existential existence, then events do indeed happen for no reason, without meaning. People are killed, you get cancer, the "Best and the Brightest" author gets broadsided and killed, a terrorist blows up a bunch of children, and there is no justice. There is no real meaning of any importance. A leaf floats on the wind and falls into the river. The currents take it into the rapids. Another leaf is whisked into the bank and finds refuge. What does it meaning? Nothing.

But is the meaning what we make of it? How we deal with it; how we face the challenges and randomness of life? Is this noise hiding a truer reality? Or is it nothing?

I think it is easier for those living to deal with these tragic events than those who are killed. This may be contrary to conventional wisdom, but actually it is a self-evident fact. The living have an opportunity to deal with it, despite their apparent difficulties. Thus while the living, grieving in their pain, can perhaps find meaning, what of the dead? What do they find? Are they the leaf pulled into the rapids?

Things get more difficult once we assume a non-existential existence. More on that later...

1 comment:

MMB said...

Why do some of the leaves washing down the stream (Tech students) garner such public outcry and outpouring of support while other leaves (Soldiers dead in Iraq)do not? For instance, does cnn.com put faces of all the dead soldiers on its front page with mini-bios? No. Why does our collective social conscience deal so differently with the two? The randomness to the violence I get - the randomness to our nation's reaction, I do not. DISCUSS..