Tragedy prompts prayers

By Anita Doberman: Columnist

Everyone is talking about the Virginia Tech tragedy. We are shocked as individuals and as a society.

As a parent, I cannot imagine the pain and anguish families and students must be experiencing. I then think about the young man’s family and the anguish they must be going through. I can’t fathom how hard it must be for them to think about their son and the lives lost because of his actions.

I wonder what could push a young man, really a boy, to feel such isolation and despair. How could someone take others’ lives and his own in such a brutal way?

As parents we do our best, try to reach our children and talk to them, but at what point and to what extent can we help them when all the doors are shut?

It seemed that this man was closed off to the outside world and had made it difficult to reach into his troubled mind.

As I watch the news, I alternate between not wanting to see anymore, to being glued to the TV, feeling angry and sad. I want to place my children in a bulletproof cocoon, really a world-proof shelter.

You can see everyone trying to look for answers. Members of the media are portraying different points of view. Some bring up gun control or different actions the police department should have taken. Others talk about better screening for mental problems, different campus security alert systems.

It’s natural that we react this way, and I found myself going through these different scenarios and wondering what could have been done. Thinking there was some easy solution makes me feel more in control. And it is, of course, important to talk about what could have been different, because maybe then something positive can come from tragedy. But then my worrying side takes over, and I fear that to some extent, tragedy is just tragedy, and it will always happen in one way or another no matter what we do, because the world is a chaotic place.

And yet, in all of this chaos, a young student from Virginia Tech, who I interviewed on my radio show (available as a podcast at or
outoftheblue), shared some words of wisdom that perhaps sum up best the extent of what we know we can do. “The biggest thing right now is the power of prayer.” I think we can all do that in our own way.

At the end of my radio show I like to share an Italian word with my listeners, usually something funny about food or phrases to make people laugh.

But today I think the most appropriate word I can share is “grazia,” meaning grace — for that is what I pray the families and those involved in this event can find.