Stopping for the world

The world stopped for Virginia Tech and the rest of the country last week. And we thank them.

Now it’s time to return the favor.

Forty-eight people died in a bombing yesterday; 198 died in a series of bombings Wednesday. Gunmen killed the dean of a political science college and an arts professor at a university on Tuesday.

In a 21-year-long civil war, 1.5 million people have died. Up to 2 million have lost their homes in the fighting. The ethnic cleansing has been called the first genocide of this century.

Making the connection? Or are you wondering why you didn’t hear about it? These numbers came from articles about the victims of violence in Iraq and Darfur. Does the world keep stopping for them?

Please do not misunderstand us. We are in no way trying to downplay the shootings at Virginia Tech. The violence that happened there is beyond words. Our country hasn’t seen this kind of tragedy since 1999, when two high school students killed 13 people in Columbine, Co.

When this happens, it shocks us. We find this senseless killing unthinkable because it’s not supposed to happen in a civilized society. We have laws, and for the most part, people follow them. If someone doesn’t, then the police or some other authority protects us. We feel safe.

We feel safe because we don’t have to fear for our lives on a daily basis. We don’t have to worry about whether a family member who is late coming back from school or work was killed in a bombing. We don’t have to worry about walking through a certain neighborhood because we are afraid a gunbattle could easily break out at any minute.

But other people around the world, including some parts of America, do have these fears. They aren’t safe. And they need us as much as Virginia Tech needed the comfort from the rest of the world.

Now we need a plan. The first step is to educate yourself. Read and watch the news. Find out as much as you can about the conflicts, the countries and, most importantly, the people. Unless you know who the people are and understand their culture, there is nothing you can do.

Find out what charities or organizations are trying to help those areas. What can you do at the local level? There are sure to be volunteer or donation opportunities.

There is no easy, overnight fix. These suggestions are just a couple of ideas that can help. The important thing is to get everyone thinking and then acting on those thoughts.

Compassion is a powerful driving force. It mends conflict and starts the healing process. Everyone felt for those who were killed in Blacksburg last week. Now it’s our turn to feel for everyone else.

The world needs balance to exist. If you felt any sympathy at all for victims of the shootings in Virginia, you can feel the same way for the victims of civil war, genocide and hatred. Compassion can win over if you let it.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.