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Fallen (a plea for us regarding the VT Tragedy) April 20, 2007

Posted by peterong in Rants.


I have taken time to allow a retreat of words so that there is a quiet corner where I could pray and reflect on this tragedy. In the midst of everything, I feel that there has been so many opportunists who have used this senseless tragedy into a platform. There are the obligatory “let’s think about the families who lost their loved ones…” but thrust right into a rant about agendas (political, racial, and any sound bite that will echo through pundit world).

I hope we go through this with dignity… and remain in our mourning and not abbreviate this time of hurt with trite explanations and explorations that neither illuminates nor comfort but rather sound like clammering for attention that add to another noise in the midst of all this cacophony.

There is a time for discussion…but it is all distracting from this time of mourning…I yearn for us to enter into the memorial with respect and offer our prayers and let the Holy Spirit speak to them…let’s not sit in the pews of this memorial with discussions of the importance of this moment in Asian American history, with words of how this affects the Korean American community, debates about media’s racism, or with indictments of how the school failed the students…let’s sit in the pews of this memorial and grieve well. Let’s take a moment to give way to the families to have the first and last words. Let them speak and work out their emotions without our interruptions.

Can we do that?

These are faces, lives and families who are dealing with a vacancy and loss that is profound and what we have to offer are analysises…theories…not tears…we give lessons instead of compassion. Please take a moment if you can to pray and remember each life lost…click below to see the full NYT list here…(you can get profiles from the New York Times here)


As for Asian Americans who are making irresponsible and reactionary statements about backlash, once again, we are trying to cover their backs in the midst of so much tears…It reminds me of John Stewart clip about the American’s reaction to the Iraq War was about how Americans are only worried about how this war is going to hurt us at the (gas) pump…”at the gas pump???” lives are at stake and we are worried about the “gas pump…”

but the reality is that for many Asian Americans there is an identification with this and there is fear…as irrational as it may be, it might exists but…let’s not center this tragedy on “what is OUR bottom line?”

after 9/11 attacks, an South Asian friend of mine was attacked and beaten… and I will never forget what he said to me…”This is not about me…it is about the hurt of a nation…and I understand why they did it…it wasn’t right what they did to me…but I can’t think of anything but the loss in the towers…and I weep and I want to hurt someone too…” He taught me so much that day…as so many sought to protect their own…he sought to focus on the loss…I was so speechless.


I am brought back to the day the Amish girls who were systemically executed and there was a community of faith who first act was to raze the school, publicly forgave the murderer, and buried the children. I wanted to hear their stories and their hurt…not some pundit…but the families who have the right to speak…

And as I watched the news and wept for those children the words of one of the grandfather of the children struck me dumb…Enos Miller, the grandfather of the two Miller sisters, was with both of the girls when they died. He was out walking near the schoolhouse before dawn Wednesday — he said he couldn’t sleep — when he was asked by a reporter for WGAL-TV whether he had forgiven the gunman.

“In my heart, yes,” he said, explaining it was “through God’s help.”

We have much to learn from them…

Professor Donald Kraybill of Elizabethtown College and author of many books on Amish life stated about the Amish, ” (they) are better equipped to process grief than are many other Americans. Their faith sees even tragic events under the canopy of divine providence, having a higher purpose or meaning hidden from human sight at first glance. The Amish don’t argue with God. They have an enormous capacity to absorb adversity — a willingness to yield to divine providence in the face of hostility. Such religious resolve enables them to move forward without the endless paralysis of analysis that asks why, letting the analysis rest in the hands of God.”

Their voices of these families should be the ones we are listening to…and in it we learn only “through God’s help”…yes, Enos Miller “through God’s help.” Thank you for teaching me that…



1. Doobybrain - April 20, 2007

what’s also sad is that by offering non-stop coverage of this event (not to mention the exploitation of the killer’s “manifesto”), the mainstream media has failed, to some extent, to deliver on its purpose: to deliver the news.

if you ask around, some people probably STILL have not heard about the recent abortion ruling (something that has been hugely controversial in the media) or even the bombing deaths in the middle east in the past few days.

I mean, I guess to some degree they are reporting on the news. But let’s not even begin to talk about being fair nor balanced…

2. Kenny - April 20, 2007

I agree, it’s really gotten out of hand and I was reading on this xanga that racism is erupting already…

Everyone pray!

3. Amy - April 20, 2007

Thank you for sharing, Peter. You are always insightful.

4. May Jie - April 21, 2007

Yes, the media has missed it again. They said how the re-showing of the towers falling has affected people (especially children)psychologically and emotionally, and here they are plastering such images all over again.

5. Joanna - April 22, 2007

thanks Peter for your godly perspective on this..

6. Dave - April 23, 2007

For some reason, I might be a bit empathically numb. Had a hard time stepping down from the soapbox in my head. But it actually helped to just look at the portraits included in your post. You’re right in emphasizing the need to respond with the due emotions.

I can’t help but want to cleave onto explainations though.

7. Jamie Kim - April 27, 2007

The sad this is, Asians commit BY FAR the least crime. We are more than 4% of the population, but commit only 1% of the crime. This information is on the FBI site.


See the last 3 charts.

8. Jamie Kim - April 27, 2007

Sorry for the repost, but I would also like to say that this backlash is really strengthening my faith in the Lord. We Asians are a humble people in America, and this backlash is so unjust. God alone is the judge, and he alone can reward people for their good or evil. All we can do is love, not hate, even when we are being hated or persecuted.

Maybe God is refining the Asian Christian people through this event. Maybe he is preparing some Asians’ hearts to be more open to the Gospel.

9. peterong - April 29, 2007

Thank you Jamie for your insight, I am not sure if there is a “huge” backlash and I think that in some ways, it is the nature of the pain that this has caused. I am not saying that it is justified but it is not something we should take into too much account.

I am not sure if this event is refininig the Asian Christian church but at large, it is calling us to rethink that gospel in terms of engaging the outsider and restoring community to the outcasts. I think that everyone can walk away from this and not focus too much on the Asian American side of it.

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