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A must read about Cho Seung-Hui

 
Berean
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04/29/2007 10:05 AM
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A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
On April 16, 2007, when Cho Seung-Hui opened fire on his victims, shooting with deadly force and at random, another dark and painful chapter was written in our shared lives as human beings, and as Americans in particular. So much is unknown and so much spadework is being done to figure it all out. There is however, in the midst of it all one powerful clue that gives us the only hint of an answer.


I am thousands of miles away from home in Atlanta as I write this, in a country I shall leave unnamed. It made front page news and the headlines said: SOUTH KOREAN STUDENT IDENTIFIED AS ASSASSIN. With that began the story: His age, his name, his family background, and so on. As I turned a few pages inside, there were about twelve photographs spread across the top of the page—each one with a name and country of origin. At the center of the page was a family in Indonesia grieving over the loss of their son who “went to America to get an education.” “He will not be coming back,” they sobbed. The whole episode leaves the heart so heavy; even though only the immediate family feels the brunt of it, society as a whole feels wounded and heartbroken in the process. We have all lost something even as the loved ones have lost someone.


It is soul-gripping to see our search for answers. We all want so desperately to blame somebody. Why did someone not do something about it? Names, individuals, ethnicity, family, blame—all carry a single message. We are people who are individuals—with loves, roots, relationships, and attachments—seeking purpose for life and responsibility for taking someone else’s. Why did the system “restrict” any pre-emptive action? One simple reason. America is a land of laws and the individual has an incredible array of rights against institutions and powers of government. You see the picture emerging, don’t you? A name, an individual, a family, someone who could have done something. Yet as we look for someone to blame and someone to explain why these things happen and we give individual rights to each citizen, something was conspicuous in the trail of clues.


When asked in a class to sign his name on a sheet of paper, Cho Seung-Hui scribbled a question mark. Cho, who didn’t care to write or speak his own name, is now a name known around the world. He had lost not just his way; he lost himself. Whether he was a deeply disturbed individual psychologically or morally, he made society pay with psychological scars and moral confusion. He said it was time for him to “payback” what was owed him. He wanted “justice”—his way. In living he wanted to remain anonymous, but in dying he wanted the world to know who he was. He was exacting a price by killing those who knew their names but whose names he himself may not have known. And he knew the carnage would make the news and the list of names would be long. His name will go down in the history books of crime. And what now of him? The silence of Materialism is deafening here.


But we who live now live with the horror of what he did. People’s lives have been shattered irremediably and the answers are not “materially” satisfying. Individuals who were dearly loved will now be scripted on gravestones and be sorely missed. What is a life worth? Who can measure it? Life is not a quantity. It transcends all mathematical and material definitions. And so as I look at the pictures, I weep. It could have been my son, my daughter, my wife, a friend, or it could well have been me as I am on numerous campuses a year. More than anything else our hearts must at this time mourn with those who mourn, including the family of Cho who are now more devastated than ever, with guilt piled upon atrocity and tragedy. Their lives have been violated as well.


This is where moral reasoning enters. “Naming” is something God gave us in the created order. He gave the first humans the privilege of naming the plant and animal world, but there were some defining realities. It was God who named the first humans, Adam and Eve. They in turn named their children. There was a time separation He named “day” and “night.” There was what He called “good” and “evil.” The latter He specifically categorized as such when Cain killed his brother Abel. We were as humans given names so that there was a clear identification of an individual entity with personal responsibility. There was a time separation because we were creatures for whom the temporariness of life was going to be a threat if we lived with disregard for the created order. There was demarcation of space so that location was a specific quantity for each one, including our very ethnicity and where we each of us was born. There was the essential nature of that which was morally worthy or unworthy. Within this He breathed what He called life into “living souls” and spelled destruction in what He called “death.”


In this horror of a mass murder on the Virginia Tech campus, we see names, places, ethnicities, times, and death. Something of essential worth was silenced amid the gunfire of a life who did not care to give us his name but who mailed the pictures of the carnage to a station with a name and an address. He celebrated his moment of triumph while we are left with time to mourn and weep.


But if we just mourn and weep we will never change the future nor understand why we even care. Soul-less reasoning will only portend a future of cataclysmic proportions when the names will be too many to count and very few will be left to do the counting. This horror we have witnessed will be only a foreshadowing of the greater darkness that looms if history-denying demagogues like the Iranian leader Ahmedinejad, ever taunting civilization with his threats, should some day deliver as well. He has buttons within his reach that if pressed will make this event at Virginia Tech look like a picnic. Why do I say this?


In all of the commentaries dealing with the tragedy of Cho Seung-Hui, there is a question lurking in the shadows that we refuse to answer. In the April 20th issue of International Herald Tribune, David Brooks entitles his thoughts under the caption “Navigating the Morality Line.” He quotes the famed line from Protagoras: “Man is the measure of all things.” Then the questions begin with torrential force:


But in the new science, the individual is like a cork bobbing on the currents of giant forces: evolution, brain chemistry, stress and upbringing…. At the extreme, many scientists now doubt that there is such a thing as free will… Once, Cho Seung Hui would have simply been condemned as evil…but now the language of morality is replaced by the language of determinism…. Responsibility shifts to wider forces.… In short, the killings at Virginia Tech happen at a time when we are renegotiating what you might call the Morality Line, the spot where background forces stop and individual choice … begins…. The killings happen at a moment when the people who explain behavior by talking about biology, chemistry, and social science are assertive and on the march, while the people who explain behavior by talking about individual character are confused and losing ground.


He ends his article by saying: “But it should be possible to acknowledge the scientists’ insights without allowing them to become monopolists…. There still seems to be such things as selves which are capable of making decisions.… It’s just that we no longer have any agreement about what they are.”


In the commentary just below his is one titled “A Killer on the Campus”, by Barbara Oakley. She brings her excellent article to a close with the words: “This is about evil, and about how our universities are able to deal with it as a literary subject but not as a fact of life.”


Think about their statements. We don’t know what a “self” means any more. We don’t know what “evil” means any more.


Cho gave us a powerful pointer to the looming tragedy in himself when he put a question mark beside his name, not just in jest but with all the accompanying behavior of one whom nobody ever got to know. That question mark itself was a clue to something seriously wrong within him. But here we run into a painful choice whether this man was pitifully sick or decidedly cruel. If he were mentally ill we can see why he put a question mark beside his name and why those speaking in his defense will see a mitigating, albeit horrific factor, entering in this tragedy. If he weren’t mentally ill then his murderous onslaught is clearly evil—claiming to not know his name while mercilessly killing those who did have a name and trampling in blood the hearts of those who loved them, destroying in his path dreams and loves and families. It was either a tragedy or an atrocity.


The greater tragedy may well be ours. How we as a society, claiming to be well, put question marks on whether there is such a thing as evil or not, whether individuals bear any instigating responsibility or not, and whether life is just a temporal thing or not. Putting question marks to which God has already given names and categories is precisely the reason we mourn and weep with no answers because we wish to re-name and redefine God’s order. That is the tragedy that leads to atrocities. Jesus said to the self-righteous that the man with physical blindness had an advantage. He knew he could not see. The one with spiritual blindness that doesn’t know he is blind is truly the one bereft of insight, truth, and reality. That may be our biggest danger at this hour.


Is evil a reality or not? Is death the end of everything for the individual or not? Is society in part and the individual in himself or herself responsible for actions or not? Is there a justice beyond the grave or not? If these questions have only question marks beside them and no answers, then Cho may well have won and society is the loser.


The strident atheists of our time like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are writing ruthless articles against any transcendent worldview, mocking and deriding belief in God. Let them look at the face of Cho and his video clips and see the end game in sight if their worldview is true: Life with no permanent address, with no name, no justice.… Life just dancing to a generic DNA. But their metaphysical framework flies in the face of every existential bone in the human frame. We have names, we long for purpose, we see evil, we cry out for justice, we wrestle against the silence of death, we define ourselves by relationships. Why? Because God has fashioned us with two great commandments in mind: to know and love Him and to know and love our fellow human being. Those two commandments are inextricably bound.


May God help the loved ones through this grief for only He is big enough to comfort those whom He knows by name. And may we as humanity wake up and realize when the word “evil” is mentioned to know it is real and is present in each one of us, and for that only Christ is big enough to change us from who we are to who we ought to be. His death and resurrection show us why His definitions make sense. If we do not see it His way, the body count will continue to rise and ink will continue to be spilled in question marks.


Augustus Montague Toplady wrote a profound hymn:


Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From thy wounded side which flowed,
Be for sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.



The writer knew evil. It has a double strength: guilt and power. Until we admit the guilt of the evil within (yes, we are all capable of horrendous acts), we can never be delivered from its power over us. Those who deal with questions of the soul may seem to be “losing” the battle with neuroscience and biochemistry. But every now and then the Cho’s of this world will call their bluff. If we continue to be blind and lose our way in the metaphysics of materialism in those disciplines, our greater losses are still ahead. That is a thought more painful than the carnage of April 16th. Thank God from the beginning He has told us what reality is and called it by name. He alone is the judge of all things and life does not end with bullet marks, for the Cross has the power to cover those wounds and raise us again. The judge of all the earth will do what is good. May His comfort be that of the soul with those who need it the most. Thank God His name is above every name and may His wisdom and power be with those who seek to understand why there need not be a question mark beside our names and life’s essence. His love is deep and strong and available to each. As is His cure and His comfort because He knows the way out of the grave



Ravi Zacharias
www.rzim.org
Anonymous Coward
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04/29/2007 01:13 PM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
Most worthy of a bump.
Anonymous Coward
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04/30/2007 07:28 AM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
Ravi is one of the most intelligent people on earth, and he is a Christian!
Anonymous Coward
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04/30/2007 07:39 AM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
That black ops scapegoat is so last week....
Anonymous Coward
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04/30/2007 02:34 PM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
That black ops scapegoat is so last week....
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 229540

More on the way eh?
Anonymous Coward
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04/30/2007 02:49 PM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
Ravi knows nothing and doesn't analyze the situation properly.

Cho was autistic with a specific form of autism called Asperger's. It explains the question mark and the inability to look people in the eye and a whole host of other personality traits. The sad part is that the American health system failed this AMERICAN and did not find a way to treat his autism early.
Anonymous Coward
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04/30/2007 02:57 PM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
Ravi knows nothing and doesn't analyze the situation properly.

Cho was autistic with a specific form of autism called Asperger's. It explains the question mark and the inability to look people in the eye and a whole host of other personality traits. The sad part is that the American health system failed this AMERICAN and did not find a way to treat his autism early.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 7423


The sad part is you blame the system and not the individual.
I guess you have a soft spot for Hitler and his bad childhood?
Anonymous Coward
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04/30/2007 03:40 PM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
How do you know Cho had Aspberger's? Are you just guessing that he did?

I heard a mental health expert on an NPR show (E. Fuller Torrey) say that Cho had schizophrenia.
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04/30/2007 03:50 PM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
Cho was a MC . they like the crazy ones , easy to work with .
Anonymous Coward
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04/30/2007 03:56 PM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
COMPLETE TRIPE
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04/30/2007 04:00 PM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
COMPLETE TRIPE
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 160503


Which part?
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04/30/2007 04:47 PM
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Re: A must read about Cho Seung-Hui
An excellent contribution, thank you OP for posting such an insightful and spot on article.





GLP