I first saw only the headlines on msnbc, but didn't have the time to actually read about what happened. My kids in Israel were the ones who instant messaged, called and commented to me on the horrific news; by that time, I had read all about the Holocaust survivor-Israeli Professor, Liviu Librescu-zecher tzaddik livracha-who in great mesirut nefesh gave his life to save his students.
At first, after seeing the headlines, my first reaction was, terrorist attack! Then the news came out that it was a single individual, apparently deranged, sick enough to take out his rage by the act of murder, with no compunctions or regard for anyone (including himself).
I began ruminating about this and worrying (I am prone to worrying. Ask my kids): this could happen anywhere, anytime; what could a person do-what would I do, if G-d forbid I or people I love found ourselves in such a situation...and the thought brought me back, (ironically this horrific event happened right around Yom Zikaron HaShoah in Israel) to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising . Many have a mental image of the Chassidic Jew, head bowed, meekly going to the slaughter in the Nazi (yimach shemam)gas chambers. But Jewish underground resistance groups formed between 1941 and 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance being the most widely known. Here in the Warsaw Ghetto were left, towards the end, approximately 56,000 Jews, mainly younger (the older ones had already mostly been murdered or deported to Treblinka and other death camps)-untrained in warfare, lacking weapons-who decided to resist the deportations after learning that they were indeed being deported to death camps.
There are some similarities to this in what happened at Virginia Tech. A crazed gunman with no conscience (=vicious Nazis) systematically trained and planned to murder as many people as he could (=the final solution).
What do you do if you find yourself in such a situation? You do everything in your power to fight back, in any way possible, using any means possible-and whatever is handy as a weapon-even if you have to risk your life in doing so. Even though this is a terrifying thought, in my heart of hearts, I know it is the right decision.
I read yesterday, I forget where, a report by pychologists about the lack of will to fight back and defend oneself that seems to be prevalent in this country; that self-defense is somehow frowned upon; our society which sometimes seems to be one of peace-now-niks (is that yellow a little hard to read?) who think that complaisance will make all the bad just go away.
In real life , it just doesn't work that way. Varifrank has the right idea. I just hope the rest of us will have the courage to do it.