This week saw the worst school shooting incident in American history. A young gunman shot 32 people dead before turning the gun on himself. Dozens of others were wounded during the rampage at the Virginia Tech University campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.
The gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, was a 23-year-old Korean-American. Most of the media has described him as a “loner” or “weird”. It certainly seems that he was a troubled man who was riddled with mental problems, but what was done to rectify this situation. It seems not much.
Like so many others he fell through the cracks. Many obstacles stood in the way of Cho receiving help. But it was the conditions that capitalism has created for ordinary people that made Cho ill. Low pay, irregular work, increasing costs of living and debt lead to high levels of stress and leave people feeling isolated with no sense of community in their lives.
In notes he left behind, Cho reportedly ranted against “rich kids” and “debauchery” and said “You caused me to do this.” This is a small indication that he felt as though he was at odds with the system.
Never before have we seen such high levels of depression and mental illness amongst youth. The blame for this needs to be pinned fairly and squarely on the system. In a dog eat dog environment that is becoming even more competitive, it is assured that some of those who are being left behind will develop problems.
It is also questionable whether, within the US health system, Cho could have even afforded the medical help he required. When you have a health system that is run for profit that system has no interest in helping people with no money.
School shootings will not be stopped by increasing security or turning schools into fortresses. Unfortunately incidents like this are bound to happen even more frequently as the divide between rich and poor increases and the living conditions of most people get worse.
The only way to ensure that incidents like those at Virginia Tech University don’t happen is to address the social problems that lead people down this road. These tragic events only serve to highlight how necessary it is for us to remove the profit driven system of capitalism and replace it with a system that is based on compassion and human need.