How can I possibly begin to express how I feel right now?
I grew up in Philadelphia, which is not exactly the safest place in the world. I was held up at gunpoint while I was working as a cashier at a movie theatre in my high-school days. I was car-jacked in my undergraduate college days in Philly as well. Bad neighborhoods, unsafe city - I don't really think it had a huge effect on me. We all know some places are unsafe; it is expected that things like this happen.
The years I spent as a grad student at Virginia Tech were great. I remember hiking and mountain biking, caving and playing soccer. I remember hanging out with friends and learning from great teachers.
I am now living on a military base in Japan. Worries about local military situations pop up here occassionally and earthquakes are frequent. The schools run lock-down drills sometimes and my kids think that's just another fun drill to break up the monotone of the day. Sometimes security searches our bags at the gate to the base when we return from our excursions into town. It's all part of the routine. We live in an unsafe world and we have to take precautions - no big deal.
A short while ago, I learned of the recent happenings in Blacksburg, on the campus of the school I remember so fondly. I can't think of anything that has effected me quite so deeply. Nothing else in my life has ever been so totally out of sync with my expectations.
I've seen or lived in many different places; my husband in is the Navy, so we move around quite a bit. Before we had children, my job involved some travel so I've spent time in various places in the US. When I was asked what the best place I have ever been was, my reply was always Virginia Tech. The competition was never close. The school is great, the people are nice, activities abound, the great city of Roanoke is close by, the area is safe....
Is there any safe place left? Recent events give reason to pause and meditate on that question. If something like this happened in Blacksburg, then could it happen anywhere? We (Americans), we (humans) have brought ourselves to this world state; how do we begin to elevate ourselves out of this situation? I can't think of the answers. There are so many great minds; I'm hoping someone can answer these for me.