I read the Anchoress’s posts on the VA Tech tragedy with interest, especially her son Buster’s response. He reminds me a great deal of my daughter who is the same age – from their faith, to beautiful voices and interest in opera, to the pragmatic and generally conservative outlook. Every time I look at teenage mall rats and despair, I remind myself that there are wonderful young adults like her son and my daughter out there and that they will do a great job running this country some day. In whatever profession they choose, they will be a sane, stable foundation. They are cool, analytical realists, and they are our hope for the nation’s future.
But as I remained parked on my convalescent couch last night I talked to Buster and his friends about how seamlessly they were able to move from watching the distressing images from Virginia to clicking on a re-run of Scrubs. “There is nothing I can do for those people,” one young man said. “I can feel bad for them because they’re in a world of hurt, and if I were there, I’d have done something, or if I were a cop, an EMT worker or something, I could do something. But I can’t. All I can do is sit here and feel bad for them, which I do, but I can’t wallow in it. That would be like making porn of it.” “Yeah,” another one said, “the truth is, these people, it’s horrible, but all you can do is kiss them up to God and then hope when it’s you turn to face something horrible, you can deal with it.”
… I talked to Buster about it later that evening. I asked him what he thought of it all – the shootings, the instinct to move from that story to a sitcom rerun. He said, “Mom, I’ve run the Columbine scenario a million times in my head. I’ve thought about what I would do, depending on where in the building such an attack were to take place. I’ve sat in class thinking about how the windows open, what structures would make the best barricades and how to go about taking the bastard down rather than simply cowering in fear while people are shot to death. I’ve thought of it. We’ve all thought of it, my friends and I, we’ve devoted hours to thinking about it. If you think we’re being cold or cavalier, I think we’re simply aware of the fact that this is what the world is, that no one can ever guarantee our safety – not schools, not governments – nothing is going to absolutely and 100% protect us from what is out there, what can spill into our lives in an instant, and change everything. All we can hope is that when stuff like this comes our way, we can do the courageous thing.”
Continuing our discussion of last night, Buster and I wondered at the fact that, while some classrooms managed to barricade doors against the Virginia Tech shooter, there seemed to be no class ready to ambush the shooter by having heavy textbooks (or desks) ready to throw at him – “if they’d just gotten him to flinch, just distracted him, they might have taken him down,” Buster said, “and when you’ve got someone down, it’s so easy to kill him.”
“Well, to restrain him,” I corrected, “until he could be taken into custody.”
“No, to kill him,” Buster said. “Why keep him alive, so he can become someone’s hero and spend 70 years on the public dole, running one appeal after another?”
Well, at that age, people do tend to focus on temporal justice more than Godly mercy. But it’s heartening that in the midst of all the “healing” and pacifying psychobabble, the next generation is interested in taking responsibility for their own safety. Society may want to keep these people as infantilized as possible, but Buster, my daughter Susanna, and their like-minded friends are the people who may cause the next generation to earn the moniker of the “greatest generation.” We have a very long war ahead of us – at least until this generation of Islamists raised from babyhood on “Death to America!” dies out – and I’m sure they will be called upon to “do the courageous thing” many times in their lives. From standing up against creeping sharia, reporting anything suspicious and risking lawsuits or even physical retaliation, reaching out to moderate Muslims, or even choosing to enlist as so many are doing – this generation will be called upon to live a life of character far more than my generation was. I believe that they are up to the challenge.