A Tragic Father’s Words

The National Herald

FILE - Lucrecia Martinez, 7, and her brother Luciano, 9, of Dickinson light candles during a vigil held in the wake of a deadly school shooting with multiple fatalities at Santa Fe High School on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas. (Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

Many things in life, however tragic they may be, do not touch us personally. We deal with them on a theoretical level.

They happen somewhere, maybe far away from us, maybe next door, but they do not happen to us. Until they do happen to us, and then our world is overturned.

Then, words are insufficient. They are not enough to express our sorrow.

The father of the accused killer 17-year-old Dimitris Pagourtzis, in an interview given to Greek TV stations, functioned on two levels: first, he expressed himself with the best words he could muster, under the circumstances, for his son. Second, he spoke with deep sorrow, wisely, with the genuine words of a father about the loss of the other 10 children.

He said, in particular: “I did not see a child who is a murderer. An innocent child, a child who was too shy to look directly at me. I think he did not bother the kids he liked so that they could tell his story that he was being bullied by his classmates. This is the interpretation I give to what he said in his testimony. The child was tortured, they beat him, bullied him. Many of them, not one, because he was not a weak child, he was strong.”

There can be no excuses for anyone, whoever he is, who commits such a horrendous crime, the coldhearted murder of 10 of his classmates. That it was a matter of bullying or that he was rejected by a girl is certainly not enough to justify what he did.

We should, of course, look elsewhere, to find an answer  Mr. Pagourtzis. To look deeper into the family environment, the principles and values with which the child was raised, the examples he had in his life, and how much his parents watched his child's behavior as he grew up.

On the other hand, Mr. Pagourtzis spoke admirably, with the pain of his soul, as a real father, for his son's victims.

He said, “I wish he killed me, not the children. I telephoned my family in Greece and told them to light three candles: one for the victims, one for my son, and one for my family. As these parents lost their children, I also lost my son...”

He is right.