Friday, April 3, 2009

Tragedy in Binghamton

I got home Thursday night for spring break from Binghamton, NY where I go to school. Thursday morning I found out about the terrible events that were taking place at the Civic Center in downtown Binghamton. I guess a middle-aged Vietnamese man who'd recently been laid off from IBM parked his car against the back entrance to the Civic Center so no one could enter or leave and then went inside and started shooting people. He killed 13 people and held 37 people hostage for a few hours before killing himself.

The saddest part is that even though this is extremely tragic, and certainly out of place in Binghamton, it isn't uncommon. This phenomenon of an individual going into a public place like a school or church or community center and blindly shooting anyone in his path is becoming more and more frequent. It's not even about avoiding certain bad neighborhoods anymore, either. These shootings are happening in the places that are universally visited like schools, churches, etc. With the added pressures of job losses that are also increasing there have been a lot more incidences of people freaking out. It's been happening just these past few days with the three police officers slain in Philadelphia and the father who killed all of his children and then himself in Washington state. What is this world coming to?? I don't understand why people don't see the connections that the emotions and feelings that spur such terrible actions have to the disconnect that we experience from things that are truly meaningful. People are disconnected from their food in that they often times don't know where it comes from and even when they do, the food has become to abstract in its processing that people are able to make themselves not care. How can we not expect people to flip out and go crazy when we are trying to convince ourselves that it's alright to kill someone for killing someone else, and it's alright to torture animals before we eat them because they are lower than us grandiose humans? You'd have to be blind to think that we don't have some pretty crazy ideas ourselves; as a society we have a tendency to lack compassion in a lot of our policies.

This is not meant at all to excuse or validate in any way what Wong did to the immigrants in Binghamton. It was a cruel and heartless act that was committed that day. I'm just saying that things are not as black and white as some people make them out to be. There is a long and deeply rooted history with an associated psychology that makes people do the things they do. I don't believe that someone is just born bad and that's one of the reasons that I can have hope that we can change. I try to do that everyday by staying positive as much as possible and leading a compassionate life with appreciation for all that I have and a true yearning to live as close to the land as possible.

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