To The Point with Mike Hogan

Michael Hogan

There is always something going on in this world, something to talk about. Here in “To the Point” I will give you my thoughts on many of these different “conversation topics.” From the glitzy world of entertainment to the real world in which most of us live, there are plenty of subjects to delve into. We can talk about most anything and everything here, straight and to the point. This week we’re going to talk about something that has been on my mind all week: violence in our society.

Nearly six months ago, on April 16, Seung-Hui Cho brought terror to the Blacksburg campus of Virginia Tech University when he opened fire in a dormitory and a crowded class room, taking 32 lives and his own. As we can with most news-making events in our lives, many of us can vividly remember where we were when we heard the news.

On Sept. 1, the massacre was once again brought to the forefront of the American consciousness when the victims were remembered before Virginia Tech’s football home opener. What shocked me about that day was not the fact that people were killed on a college campus, but more the sheer number of people killed.

As the summer came to an end a couple of weeks ago, in the small town of Norton, MA, a man killed his estranged girlfriend and shot two of her teenage daughters in the head, leaving them for dead. He killed the family dog and later shot himself before being hit by an oncoming train.

When I heard the news, I was not stunned. It felt too familiar, too normal. That was until I realized that I knew the family involved. Years ago, I taught at a summer camp the girls attended and their mother volunteered at. It was not something like this happening in small town America that shocked me, but that I personally knew the victims.

These things happen too often in our world. So much so that we have become numb to them, detached from their severity. It seems that the nightly news is filled with violence, people being shot, stabbed, assaulted, robbed. It has become too familiar, too normal. We see these things and we feel distanced from them. It is only when we are forced to confront these things that we realize the gravity of them.

When the shootings at Virginia Tech happened, I knew that something bad had happened, but I really was not affected by it. Sure, it happened on a college campus, but not my campus. I joined Facebook groups in support of the victims, I signed banners that were sent to Virginia in a show of support, but I was still not really affected. Thirty-three people died and I felt almost numb about it. I still had that feeling that most of us have, that invincible, “it won’t happen to me” kind of feeling.

But, it only took one person, someone I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years to hammer home to severity of violence in our society. Once it became personal, it became real.

The question we must ask ourselves is not how do we keep people from getting their hands on guns or knives. That sort of questioning is futile at this point. If people want to get weapons, they will get them, legally or otherwise. The question we must ask is why does this not affect us more? Why is it that so many people in our society seem to think it is okay to solve their problems with violence?

Unfortunately, I cannot offer any concrete answers to the questions I ask. I can only hope and pray that it doesn’t happen to me.