Brother Ron Barnes
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Lesson of the Virginia Tech Tragedy

Dear Brother Ron

This is truly a time for lengthy, heartfelt prayer for all the tragic victims at the college, those who died, were shot, and are relatives, friends, and classmates where this hideous act occurred.

I think it is also a time to look at these stark deaths, and see the broader reality it takes in. Particularly, this kind of event CANNOT be allowed to reoccur. This will take planning and expertise I lack, but what must be done, must be done. If that means NOT BANNING GUNS on campus, so students and professors are not easy prey, then let that be done. John Donne wrote that "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."

That brings up the lesson that perhaps some in our society have forgotten-that ANY persons death diminishes us.


Dear Glen

America has indeed suffered a severe tragedy in the recent events at Virginia Tech. Our hearts go out to the grieving families of those who died and the ones who lay wounded in hospital beds. This was a senseless act which cut short the lives of people whose only crime or sin was going to class.

At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, I wish to suggest that the real lesson from this tragedy may be that death does not have the finality we attribute to it. Yes, we grieve for the pain and suffering of the victims and their families. I wish with all of you that this could have been avoided. But this may be a good time to pause and reflect on how many senseless deaths occur every day.

Every year, over 50,000 Americans die on our streets because they wanted to drive from one place to another. Every day, people in Iraq die because they went to the store or to work or to a mosque to pray. The number and causes of senseless deaths is almost endless. Given this fact, maybe death is not the tolling of the final bell we believe it to be.

I believe this was the message Jesus was trying to send us. By rising from the grave, He proved that death has no power at all compared to the power of God. Some day, accident or disease will destroy my physical body. This thought holds no terror for me because I know the life within me which came from God will return to Him. I also believe God is the ultimate recycler. He will use that life once again to further His plan for the universe.

We are right to mourn the loss of the victims. We might even mourn for the tortured young man who felt driven to commit such a hideous act before taking his own life. But to view it as the finality of life? I don't think so.

Best always
Brother Ron