Wednesday, April 18, 2007

His Name Was Liviu Librescu

Life isn't just a matter of technique, a little more this, a little less that. Not the important things. If you were there the other day at Virginia Tech, no matter what you would have done, you would probably still die, or not. Let's stipulate that.

But, coincidentally, or not, one of my blogbrothers (actually my blogsister, Miz H) mused today that the Catholic tradition suggests that we must think through such things before they happen, so that our moral decision is already made, and not at the mercy of our fight-or-flee instinct. (Flee! What, are you crazy?)

And, I would add, our blogbrother Jay Homnick, who was brought up in the rabbinic tradition, tells us that it presents the young not with theology, but with moral and ethical puzzles. What would you do if x happened?

That the one hero of Virginia Tech that we know of---who stood up against the murderer, who enabled almost everyone else to escape---was a Jew, a Holocaust survivor, and an Israeli, is not a matter of coincidence. His entire life led to that moment.

The rest of us, we (me, anyway), remain as children in our largely cushy and morally uncomplicated country. But perhaps our curiosity about this one isn't just morbid curiosity, but our search for meaning in this meaningless, nihilistic act. This isn't like watching the Anna Nicole trainwreck. That was easy to sit back on, go tut-tut, and assume some stance of moral superiority.

We're all trying to find ourselves somewhere in here.

His name was Liviu Librescu. We should all learn his name, inscribe it in the Book of Life, and remember it for the rest of our lives. And perhaps at our moment of truth (and it will come to each of us), we might lay down our own lives or reputations or whatever we hold of value for others, as he did.

This was a man.

2 comments:

Winston Smith said...

Hear, hear.

(As a footnote, though, I'll add that even the dangerously secular C. S. Peirce thought it best to plan out actions ahead of time. Develop the right instincts so that, in the heat of the moment, you don't have to rely on your [rather unreliable] reasoning abilities.)

Tom Van Dyke said...

From what I've learned about CS Peirce, mostly from you, Mr. Smith, he's perhaps the greatest genuinely American philosopher (William James is in there, too).

Peirce (pronounced "purse"), is the father not only of "pragmatism," but "semiotics" (the study of universiality in signs and symbols) as well; although unschooled in the rigors of academic philosophy, was a wise man.

He said we should spend 5 minutes of every day "musing" about things. Most of us, in the hurry of the modern age, spend mebbe 20 seconds.

We all need to make a little more time for the Important Things.