Friday, April 13, 2012

Virginia Tech and Oikos University Massacres: Was Difference Anxiety the Root Cause?

In this post, we uncover two eerily similar and horrific examples of the impact of difference anxiety that history-centric thought systems have injected into their captive followers minds. 'Difference Anxiety' is a powerful phrase introduced by Rajiv Malhotra in his recent book 'Being Different'.

April 16, 2012 will mark the five-year anniversary of the horrific massacre of innocent students and faculty at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. On this day in 2007, a deranged student walked around the idyllic VT campus and classrooms murdering 32 people (one of whom was a friend) and wounding 25 more before committing suicide.

April 2, 2012: Another deranged gunman, an ex-student of the Oikos University (OU) in West Oakland, California shot and killed seven and wounded more before being captured. These two attacks are numerically among the three worst campus massacres in the history of the United States. Here are the commonalities between these two April killers. Neither the American nor the international media have investigated these cases from this angle so far, to the best of my knowledge.

The VT Killer

Seung-Hui Cho, was born in South Korea in a family that seems to have disavowed the pluralist native philosophical traditions of Korea and embraced Christian Church Dogma and were zealous church goers after they emigrated to the United States. Based on the feedback from the community in Korea and his uneasy elationship with family and community in Virgnia, there are strong indicators that that his deracinated upbringing where his family discarded their age old Confucian beliefs and adopted an aggressive Evangelist Church dogma contributed toward maintaining this confused state of mind. We can conclude that he had issues with his name because it sounded like a girl's name based on the evidence of his uncle Kim in Korea who said "But when I heard that it happened in Virginia, where my sister lived, and the name was Seung Hui, I knew. He has a girl's name - Seung Hui is a rare name for a man". In the US, an evangelist pastor at a Korean church in Centerville, Virginia, where Cho grew up, told the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper he had once advised Cho's mother to take him to a doctor to check for autism. The mother disagreed, but prayed in church for her son to crawl out of his shell"

There is also first-hand evidence that suggests Seung's total disillusionment with Church dogma and the gender difference anxiety issues (in this case manifested via his 'girl's' name and his stalking of females in the campus) that afflict quite a few of its adherents.

The OU Killer

One L. Goh is also a native of South Korea. His family too uprooted him from his native place and immigrated to the United States when he was a kid, interestingly, to the same geographical area of the VT shooting, Southwest Virginia. He was extremely uncomfortable with his name because it sounded like a girl's name and actually went ahead and changed it. Sounds familiar?

OU is a private Korean Christian university in Oakland, California. It should be no surprise that it is affiliated with the Evangelical Praise God Korean Presbyterian Church in Oakland. OU is reported in the media as primarily a nursing school, but a deeper look shows that its curriculum includes a strong dose of Christian Dogma. Aside from the language anxiety problem that Goh faced, we perhaps see his gender anxiety issue surface once again: the local police chief indicates that "Goh went to Oikos with "the intent of locating a female administrator but when learning she was not there, he opened fire at random people". Another example is Goh extolling his masculinity by glorifying violence. Note the predominantly female population in OU (and his victims).  We also see that the reports mention that Goh was disillusioned and angry with the management of OU and had a score to settle with them, and appears to have picked on innocent women as an alternative target to vent his fury. After the event, we notice the local Korean church community "calling for unity" and closing ranks.

Main Culprit: Difference Anxiety?
These are glaring recent examples where the History-Centric Christian dogma in the west has failed to provide sustainable solutions to their youthful followers in dire need of scientifically uplifting and healing help and peace of mind. The Church response is typically dogmatic and the option is to simply to "pray" or ingest side-effects-filled drugs prescribed by doctors. Neither of these solutions address the fundamental issue of Difference Anxiety faced by people from non-western cultures as well as by some in the west toward these visitors. The conclusions of the official VT massacre report lays the final blame on the young killer for not seeking help. Furthermore, in history-centric populations where such anxious youth mingle, there is little or no scope for mutual respect and equality based on recognizing and accepting these differences, and the relationship is based more on the patronizing and unsustainable notion of tolerance, with the aim of eventually erasing such differences. In both cases, we see this occur. Informal conversations with friends in Singapore and other parts of East Asia indicate that the phenomenon of such a gender difference anxiety among some of their peoples there may be widespread, and as is well argued in the recent book 'Being Different', my postulate is that this gender anxiety was not prevalent when Confucianism and Buddhist Dharma dominated Korea, and is almost surely a recent product of History-Centric thought via the Evangelical church that has a dogmatic (western universal) and warped notion of masculinity and femininity. This condition seems to been reinforced at an early age in the killers minds and maybe worsened after immigration into a completely western society.

Cultural Genocide by the Evangelist Christian Church
The two above examples are emblematic of the failures of Church over many centuries in coming up with an uplifting self-realization and self-help methods like the Yoga and meditation of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism of Dharmic India and Asia for their followers, coupled with its disdain for such inner sciences, which they are now trying to misappropriate into their dogma given the increasing popularity of Yoga in the west. To make matters worse, the church is marketing this failed product to non-western cultures using their predatory and cynical practice of inculturation and digestion wherein they convert native populations to Christianity by deceitful incorporation of popular elements of local tradition (Korean example), but without ever getting rid of their dogma and History-Centrism. Korea is a prime example where Western Evangelists with tacit approval from their governments have destroyed the cultural fabric of South Korea and created a huge deracinated population. 43% of South Korea now follow Evangelist Christian dogma, where there were close to 0% just a couple of centuries back. This is nothing short of cultural genocide and these very same Evangelists are targeting India in exactly the same manner. How many Chos and Gohs will that produce?

We close this post by praying for the Dharmic Atmans of the victims of these horrific crimes. The Atman is infinite and eternal. Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!


  1. This is an interesting hypothesis, how to examine it further?

  2. Hi Arun: a great question and i only have a long and probably incomplete answer, so feel free to add.

    I had understood DA as a more abstract concept while reading the book, but this process of applying that idea turned that into a more visceral comprehension of the scary mechanics of DA that plays out in real life.

    I believe there are a host of such practically useful ideas in the book BD that can be empirically 'verified' or applied to real life situations. So rather than just read BD and forget, we could try to apply those ideas to real situations and work out the actual mechanics, approaching it using what ever skill sets we have from our area of expertise.

    In this specific case, i felt DA was already seeded in S.Korea and got progressively worse in the US in the absence of a scientific support system. DA manifests itself in many different ways and many immigrant Indians as well as native Indians endure some form of DA and are yet completely unaware of it. They could be helped.