Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech

I was all set to post something light-hearted when I heard about the shooting at Virginia Tech earlier this week. Being from Virginia, I know many people who attended Tech, and I'm as shocked as anyone. I read on CNN that the shooter was from the same county (Fairfax) where I'm from. But it really hit home when I learned this young man graduated from the same high school where my husband was a teacher. Although my husband never had this person in his classes, it makes me uneasy to think they walked the same halls at the same time.

People often ask me which I prefer: life in the U.S. or life in Italy. And I can never answer that question. There are things I love and don't love about both places. But for all the fun I poke at life in Italy, an event like the one at Virginia Tech reminds me of one of the best things about living in Italy: a sense of security.

My father-in-law was bewildered when we shipped our American mini-van here and he noticed the doors all lock automatically after you start up the engine.

"Why do they do that?" he asked.

"We're safer that way," I answered.

He looked puzzled, then replied: "Safer from what?"

I didn't bother going into the concept of carjacking. Or explain that Americans simply know to lock their doors when driving through certain neighborhoods. Or that "going postal" has become part of the American lexicon.

Italy has dangers of its own, of course. Drunk driving doesn't carry the same taboo that it does in the states, and no one's familiar with the concept of designated driver. At least half the people I see driving around don't even buckle up their children.

But I can walk anywhere in Trieste at night and feel safe, something I would never attempt in Washington, D.C. And with Italy's anti-gun laws, I can send my children to school without worrying about gunmen.

So which country is the safest place to raise children? I suppose it's more likely for someone to be hit by a drunk driver than become a victim of random violence. But still. If only I could combine the best of both places...that's where I'd want to raise my kids.


olmue said...

Freaky about the connections. My husband applied for the job that Jamie Bishop, the German prof who was shot, got.

And I know exactly what you mean about safety. There are plenty of other dangerous things in Germany, but the ability to buy a gun is not one of them.

Natalie said...

Oooh, how glad I am that your husband didn't get that job, olmue--wow. Very sobering.