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As reported by the National Post (Canada):

A question of courage
Graeme Hamilton, National Post
Published: Saturday, April 21, 2007

When a deranged gunman began his shooting rampage at Virginia Tech's Norris Hall on Monday, most of the dozens of students in the vicinity cowered under desks or fled, according to witness accounts. But, before being fatally shot himself, 76-year-old Professor Liviu Librescu thrust himself against his classroom door and held off Cho Seunghui long enough to allow many of his students to jump to safety. The professor's heroism gives rise to some awkward questions: How could a single gunman kill 30 people in one building without being overpowered? Why are acts of courage like Prof. Librescu's so uncommon?

The nature of courage has preoccupied thinkers since ancient times. Aristotle called courage "the first of human qualities, because it is the quality which guarantees the others." The philosopher saw courage as a virtue lying between the two extremes of cowardice and fearlessness, a notion echoed by Plato, who wrote: "A man becomes perfect in courage by fighting against and conquering the cowardice within him."

When considering a tragedy like Virginia Tech, people naturally wonder whether they would be "perfect in courage" if confronted with similar circumstances. Would they have reacted like Mr. Librescu? Would they have risked their lives to save others?

William I. Miller, author of an acclaimed book on the topic, The Mystery of Courage, believes that for most of us, the answer to those questions is no. "That's just classic grand, heroic behaviour," Prof. Miller, a historian and law professor at the University of Michigan, said of Mr. Librescu's deeds. Such heroic acts are "pretty rare," he said.

He wonders whether such acts will be come only rarer, whether Western society has become so risk-averse that we are increasingly incapable of heroism. He despairs when he sees kids in his Michigan neighbourhood wearing "armour at the level of a medieval knight" as they learn to ride a bicycle and hears that touch football has been banned at the local elementary school because the ball is pointed.

"We so shield our children and ourselves from any encounter where we're called on to deliver," he said.

His research into courage led him to study soldiers' memoirs, particularly from the U.S. Civil War, and what he found is that it is difficult to predict who will behave courageously under fire. "One of the things that features very prominently in these memoirs is that people are always sizing up everyone else in the unit: 'Who's the courageous guy, and who's the coward?' There are some tendencies but they can never quite predict. The little nerdy accountant turns out to be a great soldier and the barroom brawler turns out to just crack when he hears gunfire."

Another interesting finding was that courage is not inexhaustible. Valiant soldiers can only be asked to go to the well so many times before cracking under pressure. But, by the same token, someone who fled battle in one instance could "deliver in spades in the next one because he was so ashamed," Prof. Miller found.

Because grand heroic acts such as Mr. Librescu's are so rare, Prof. Miller prefers to focus attention on people a little lower down the bravery scale. "What do we call just the ability to be there every day and not run, like these poor guys in Iraq?" he asked. "They see guys every day get maimed and sniped and roadside-bombed, and yet they just go and get in their Humvee every day and discharge their duty. They're not doing anything that's going to get mentioned in the papers, but they're showing up doing a dangerous, terrible crappy job, right? At some level you want to say that takes some sort of moral quality that is to be admired."

Obviously, armed soldiers in a war zone are better equipped to confront danger than students on a bucolic campus. But that has not stopped people from wondering how Cho was able to wreak such destruction before taking his own life.

Five classrooms were occupied in the area on the second floor of Norris Hall where Cho began shooting. According to reports, Mr. Librescu and one student were the only people killed in his mechanical engineering class. Another class managed to fend off the gunman when students jammed a table against the door and blocked his entry.

One of those students, Zach Petkewicz, told CNN that a classmate had looked out the door after hearing shots and seen a

gunman in the hallway. "I was just completely scared out of my mind originally, just went into a cowering position, then just realized, you have got to do something." He and two others pushed the table against the door and pushed with all their might to keep Cho from entering. "I'm just glad I could be here," Mr. Petkewicz told an interviewer when asked how he felt to be considered a hero.

In the other classes, there would be no heroes, just the lucky and the unlucky. Some survivors have described playing dead as shots went off around them, punctuated by grunts and groans of the wounded and long pauses as the gunman reloaded.

"This is a hard post to write," New York poet Levi Asher wrote on his blog, The Cherry Orchard, the day after the shootings, "because everybody who's watching the terrible tale of mass murder on the Virginia Tech campus can sympathize with the devastated students and faculty members who lived through the horror."

But Mr. Asher was left with a nagging question: "I can't be the only one wondering why a roomful of students did not try to overpower a lone gunman," he wrote. "I thought this was the lesson of September 11, the lesson of United Flight 93: In the face of any type of murderous rampage, whether a carefully planned act of terrorism or a random act of insane violence, a crowd's ability to overtake an attacker might offer their best chance. Sure, it takes incredible bravery to rush a guy with automatic weapons, even when the gunman is reloading, and there would have been casualties. But with 10 or more students in a room, there is no question that the crowd could have prevailed within a matter of seconds."

There are examples of unarmed people successfully confronting a gunman. In 2002, an Australian university instructor, Lee Gordon-Brown, struggled across a classroom while wounded to disarm a heavily armed gunman. In the United States, 17-year-old Jake Ryker credited his knowledge of guns for being able to recognize when a high school shooter in Springfield, Ore., in 1998 needed to reload. He seized the opportunity to tackle the shooter.

John Darley, a professor of psychology at Princeton University, has extensively studied how people respond to emergencies. He said the reactions of people at Virginia Tech were understandable and follow a familiar pattern.

As a professor, Mr. Librescu likely felt a responsibility toward his students that would not have been reciprocated, just like a captain who ensures his passengers are all safe before leaving his sinking ship. "In these situations, it is sometimes the case that there are people who are responsible and they extend that responsibility to dealing with unexpected emergencies," he said.

Another phenomenon that appears to have occurred at Virginia Tech, and that could have contributed to the body count, was a natural reflex to discount the possibility of an emergency. Survivors have said they thought the initial shots were construction noise.

Prof. Darley says research has shown that people confronted with crises usually look to those around them for cues on how to respond.

"Everybody is frozen in place," he said. "In our culture, we don't want to cry wolf, we don't want to overreact." So instead, the tendency is to read our neighbour's inaction as a sign that nothing is wrong, and response time is delayed.

Rather than imagining improbable scenarios where they play the hero and tackle the bad guy, Prof. Darley would like people to recognize the signs of danger and not be shy to sound the alarm. "I would like them to imagine people around them not acting, the people around them being puzzled. I would like them to imagine that they themselves will be feeling very unsure about what to do. They won't immediately have the impulse, 'I will now be heroic.' I would like them also to think about ways they could engage other people, if they would simply break the ice by asking other people, 'What is this?' "

Being mentally prepared can help people respond to a crisis, Prof. Darley said. And Prof. Miller expressed the hope that Mr. Librescu's heroics could prove inspirational. "What do the people feel who know that they are only alive because of that man? It has to haunt them, because you owe a debt you can never pay back," Prof. Miller said."

Does the example this wonderful professor set, does that mean that every one of those kids will feel obliged, if their turn ever comes up, to pay him back by acting as courageously as he did?"

[email protected]

The report can be found at; http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=21bf6b74-dc3a-4d59-9e6d-ec71d66c9947

- Janq
 

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although its a sad, sad compromise. You dont NEED heroes if the average Joe has the means to defend himself.

but we all know this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Any average Joe can be a hero and means of defense are everywhere.
Shoes, belts, books, desks, yard sticks, pointers, socks filled with cell phones or some other weighty item, drinks and more.

Everything is a weapon beginning first with ones own mind, will, and spirit to survive.

- Janq
 

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i know i know. i didnt say otherwise.

but this isnt like the chic bartender or the wife in the parking lot, Janq. Your no longer the on-looking by standard. YOU are the victim. im just saying the circumstances differ greatly then previous scenarios we have discussed here.

in any event, its a terrible case of completely random violence. no individuals where picked with a purpose. For that very reason i find it sad that we are still so enthralled with the whole event. nothing could have stopped this. not banning guns, not restricting ebays sale of magazines, and probably not even singing kumbaya with this Cho character every night by the camp fire. in my personal opinion i dont think this fuck-tard is entitled to airtime on CNN and NBC. i think his carcass should be thrown into the ocean and the people who experienced the terrible ordeal left to their morning. the 'country' does not need to heal. the country does not need time to morn. President bush does not need to go to VA and read a pre-writen speach. i feel, people need to stop attaching themselves to these events that dont really effect them.

why do we choose to center so much time and anguish over the deaths of 32 people that could not have been stopped? 20K people die every day from hunger, and that CAN be stopped. you cant stop a some nut job with a gun or a gas can. but there are a thousand tragedys a day that are hundreds of times worse. the difference is NBC or CNN cant make money off broadcasting shit that happens in Africa every day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Something definitely could have stopped an event like this, and the NASA employee shooting on Friday, and the CNN employee shooting two weeks ago, and the other college campus shooting from just prior to that, and many of the other shootings and crimes in general that occur across the country.

If and only if America begins to take seriously it's sorry state of mental health.
We've got significant issues with mental health and programs to support as much although existant are not nearly as abundant or developed as they could and maybe should be.

The San Francisco Chronicle said:
Officials tell why shooter allowed back on campus

Ian Urbina and Manny Fernandez, New York Times

Thursday, April 19, 2007

(04-19) 22:25 PDT Blacksburg, Va.

...Cho Seung-Hui, 23, the student who killed himself and 32 others, received outpatient psychiatric care ordered for him after he was involuntarily hospitalized and reportedly suicidal in late 2005.

Christopher Flynn, director of the campus counseling service, said the university had played no role in monitoring Cho's psychiatric treatment.

"The university is not part of the mental health system nor the judiciary system, and we would not be the providers of mandatory counseling in this instance," Flynn said at a news conference. "This is not a law enforcement issue. He had broken no law that we know of. The mental health professionals were there to assess his safety, not particularly the safety of others."...

...Wednesday, criticism increased after court documents, classmates and professors indicated that Cho had a long history of disturbing and menacing behavior. On Thursday, even President Bush joined the chorus of those questioning whether more could have been done to avoid the tragedy, although he did not specifically mention university officials.

"One of the lessons of these tragedies is to make sure that when people see somebody or know somebody that is exhibiting abnormal behavior, to do something about it," he said. "To suggest that somebody take a look; that if you are a parent and your child is doing strange things on the Internet, pay attention to it."

Also on Thursday, Gov. Timothy Kaine of Virginia said the state, rather than the university, would oversee a review panel that plans to examine how the university handled Cho's mental health needs and the shootings.

The panel, which Kaine said would seek to make recommendations before classes start in the fall, will be led by retired Col. Gerald Massengill, a former state police superintendent, and includes Tom Ridge, the former secretary of homeland security, Kaine said.

In defending their actions, university officials pointed out that Cho was legally an adult and that a doctor at the psychiatric center in nearby Radford where Cho was sent in 2005 determined that he was mentally ill but not an imminent danger to himself or others.

"I know that we followed all of our policies correctly in the past, and we acted on information that we had at the time," said Edward Spencer, associate vice president for student affairs.

He added that Cho had lived in a suite with five other students, and "none of them expressed any concern to us of any violence, danger or whatever. I think that gives you a view of the inner world of mental illness."...

Source - http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/04/20/SHOOTING.TMP
As stated the university did not see itself as being responsible for the safety of it's populace in so far as protecting people from that of those students and/or personnel who have mental health issues.
Further it did not see fit to follow through on the not one but two complaints against Cho as being a stalker. Nor did Cho's roommates amongst themselves see fit to report to anyone that hey their roommate is a weirdo or that between the two of them they themselves felt unsafe, as they openly reported to the world during an interview with CNN...after the fact when it was too damn late to do anything about it.

This event does affect us and us all.
It's yet another example of what mental health professionals and law enforcement personnell have known for ages now. Criminals and crime are often related to persons who have mental health issues and of that they most often go untreated if even diagnosed.
All of use walk the streets, we all know somone who is or was in college, many of use across America live in college towns or next to a school.
As well these 32 people represented some of our best and brightest which as based on practical observation we as a country can ill afford to lose.

These deaths very much could have been prevented. They even could have been stopped if prevention had fallen to the way side. The university could and IMHO should have taken the university into a lock down mode upon the first two murders being reported. They should have alerted the entire population including students, instructors, personnel _and_ the surrounding civilian population too that a _MURDERER_ was on the loose somewhere in or about the campus and/or the town of Blacksburg. Thats just a no brainer bit of common sense.

There are indeed a thousand trajedies that occur in America and 999 of them go under reported if at all be they in Americ or lands foreign to us.
Discussing and spending time toward these is done by the media because enquiring minds want to know, and from that learn if not understand. NBC and CNN making a buck in doing so does not make the news any less important. As well if one wants to learn about what is happening in Africa it's not that difficult to switch to BBC or watch African correspndent Jeff Konegi cover as much in his ongoing reports on what has been nearly a year long basis via CNN.

At the end of the day everyone of us knows someone somewhere be he a friend, family member, neighbor or fellow student who we suspect if not outright know for sure has mental health issues, or simply is 'not right'.
As well we many if not most all of us know someone who is in some way minor or major related to criminal element. Beyond that many of us know of atleast one person who owns or has access to firearms. Combine any two of those three elements and you have real potential toward yet another Cho.

- Janq

P.S. - I'm sitting here watching via Netflix 'Rambo:First Blood', a classic American film toward mental illness in combination with weapons and violence triggered by feeling of social isolation be it self imposed or otherwise.
 

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I think a reinvigorated sense of purpose/sacrifice for the common good wouldn't be a bad thing either. People don't seem to want to make sacrifices anymore. I myself hope that I can leave this world a little better than I found it even if it means I don't get to enjoy things for long after. Of course it's better to live a long and fruitful/productive/"good" life but if not that I hope my end will amount to some good. :shrug:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
NN,

I started a new thread featuring recent and relevant reports toward how the lack and largely ignoring of mental health has resulted directly in increased crime and danger for citizens as well as persons who themselves are mentally ill.

http://www.gunatics.com/forums/showthread.php?p=17022#post17022

This is important stuff to be aware of as it affects everyone everywhere of all social classes, mental health & crime.
The case at VT is just the latest in a long line of school shootings, community attacks, and indidvidual low media coverage crimes that are very commonly perpetrated by persons who are suffering from varying levels and degrees of mental illness.
Ask any cop, emergency room nurse, or criminal attorney and they will tell you the same. Criminals are most often closer to crazy than stupid, the prey for these crazy people are you and I...Mr & Ms. Joe Average-Citizen.

Those of us who carry or keep defensive arms in our homes have at one time or another said we are not fearful of our neighbor so much as we are concerned toward crazy people and criminals who wish to do us harm.
Well literally those are the persons who are our enemy, persons with menal illness if not being bat shit crazy which includes everyone from that kid who mugged & punched out the old lady in NY (the media picked up on it as there was video of the incdent) to Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden.

Guns don't mug, rob, and kill people.
People with mental health issues do.

- Janq
 
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