[Milton-L] What have we become?

Rose Williams rwill627 at suddenlink.net
Tue Apr 17 15:33:06 EDT 2007

Now that we are realizing and trying to deal with yesterday, we have 
attitudes to adjust.
Many thanks to Ryan for the Lycidas quote -- one of the functions of good 
literature is
to remind us that our tragedies may be unique in details, but not in the 
human equation.
Man has been here before, and Milton, through his experiences and the 
experiences of those
about him, was keenly aware of that; he can help
Some years ago, when a student in the school where I taught walked into 
class singing "Here
Comes Peter Cottontail" and shot his history instructor in the face, the 
adminstration locked down
the campus immediately and an administrator who was a war veteran went in 
and talked the
gunman down. It worked that time -- who knows if it would again?
In dealing with students in the aftermath then, and if dealing with Virginia 
students today, my first move was/would be to remind them of the thousands 
of students who were NOT injured. In the most dangerous situations, any one 
person has a small chance of being on the sword's point. If you find 
yourself on that point, you deal as best you may.
Some of the students yesterday saved themselves and others; some were not 
able to do so. As Caesar said, "If it is not my day to die no man can kill 
me; if it is my day to die no man can save me."
We Americans are blessed and spoiled -- we are not accustomed to facing the 
fact that death is all around us, and we stave it off when we can however we 
can. One would think, with all the time we spend speeding down crowded 
freeways, we would be more aware of this, but we are not. When something 
like yesterday reminds us, we must help
our students cope while we are coping ourselves. Today may be our last, but 
it is unlikely to be. So we do
our homework and prepare for a future we shall probably have to face.
Somewhat strangely perhaps, this little Dorothy Parker gem helped my 
students in that crisis:
Drink and dance and laugh and lie;
Love the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die--
But alas, we never do.

Rose Williams

> I had a conversation with my rector this morning about
> feelings of vulnerability - >
> The rooms I teach in this term - like most classrooms on our
> part of the campus - are not built for escape. One is part of
> what was once a swimming pool in the basement.

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