When Don Imus infuriated Rutgers University and the nation with flippant racist, sexist remarks on his morning radio show, consequences were swift, amends were made, and forgiveness became possible.
I originally intended to discuss the obligation of the media to analyze and debate ideas in a responsible manner that includes people rather than excludes them. The national dialogue surrounding Imusâ€™s statements and the level of discourse in this country must continue.
But, as often happens in life, another issueâ€"one of life and deathâ€"became our nationâ€™s focus. Without forgetting the horrors of demeaning the valor and honor of minorities in this country, we must visit the problems we all face.
Blacksburg is a beautiful little town in Western Virginia. The only true haunt on the road through this home of Virginia Tech University was the Kudzu vines overtaking centuries-old trees. The last time I drove through that part of Virginia, it was late June, a time when the color green peaked. Nothing appeared to condemn this part of the world. Not even the strangling Kudzu foreshadowed the largest massacre in American history.
This year, Jamestown, Virginia, will celebrate the 400th anniversary of its founding as the first permanent English settlement in America. Preparations for the festivities included a large piece of housecleaning: The Commonwealth of Virginia apologized for slavery.
The apology may have seemed dry to most Americans, considering how whetted our appetites tend to be for salacious rumors and celebrity gossip. But the proclamation is an important declaration that this strange experiment, founded for reasons still debated, continues to stretch its legs, find its purpose, and grow.
Growing pains may be the kindest moniker for the mistakes our federal administration has made over the past six years, but the 2006 midterm elections proved our willingness to learn.
The one thing our country does better than any other is to adapt and mature, if given the tools and the time. Our forefathers may have dreamed of a democratic utopia, but anyone who argues that even they thought it had been achieved is imbecilic at best.
We have struggled at times to realize even the most basic attributes of a free society. A stroll down any main street from Maine to Maui reveals opportunities for improvement. But that is just it. We have opportunities in this country, and so long as we focus on them, we just might keep this thing afloat.
I become disenchanted at times with the state of our culture. We seem to be barreling toward an unthinking future, a time and place where reflection and contemplation are eschewed for instantly gratifying activities like adulterous affairs and binge drinking.
Yet, I also see the connection between Richie Hawtinâ€™s reconstruction of electronic music and Beethovenâ€™s reinvention of the symphony.
I donâ€™t care much for Paris Hiltonâ€™s debauchery on prime-time television, but I know that obsession with excess led to Marcel Proustâ€™s observation of hypocrisy in his masterpiece In Search of Lost Time.
The potential for greatness to rise above an increasing muddled puddle of mediocrity is of more importance than temporary annoyance of an unmotivated society. And the movement of that society motivates great individuals. Whatever it takes to promote that spirit and determination is well worth the discomfort.
The one thing that can derail this process of progress is violence. We never will know what was lost in the massacre at Virginia Tech. We cannot know how many great lives and ideas, how many joyous picnics and holidays, were destroyed.
We only can know that anyone who enables this kind of reaction to life is a part of this kind of destruction of life. This is terrorism. This venomous hatred disables the great society we are trying to create.
The excuses and the justifications for what this man has done will be many, and they will be veiled. But they will be nothing more than excuses by and for those who have allowed this kind of negative reciprocation to unfold.
The Second Amendment to our beloved Constitution does not state that persons who have spent time in a mental institution and are angry with rich people should own firearms.
When everyone can own a gun, we cannot distinguish the criminals from the innocent. We must demand action regarding access to deadly weapons. We must debate the rational necessity of firearms. It is time to rid the national dialogue of firearms. It is time to create a civilized society.