Virginia Tech. What can it mean for me?

The events on the Virginia Tech campus are shocking, unreal.  Since I heard of the events, I've been pondering about it.  I've been thinking alot about what this can mean for me.  I don't know any of the students, professors, or staff at VT.  So many people have been affected by this tragedy beyond just the campus and the families.  I've been thinking about the Emergency workers, Nurses, Paramedics, Physicians, etc… Local residents…the staff of the University, but thta doesn't seem to be enough for me.

But, I keeping going back to the perpetrator, Cho.  I've had feelings of sadness, alienation, anger, resentment and rage in my life.  Even with all that, I've never wanted to hurt random people, or even known persons.  I can not imagine the emotional pain that this young man.  I just can not imagine what hurts he experienced, real or percieved that could lead him to such actions.  Clearly, he was mentally unstable, as well as very deeply troubled, sad, and lonely.  I'm very surprised and a bit concerned that there is absoloutely no one coming forward who knew this young man, or considered him a friend. I'm sure in the VT environment, many people tried to be his friend, one professor even attempted ot help him seek counseling.  I'm sure being a friend to a desperately troubled person would be quite difficult, and most people wouldn't, and obviously didn't bother to try. I think if I had met him, I would have been fairly abrupt as I have little tolerance for this sort of darkness. 

But, I'm actually quite concerned that this will occur again. (It seems to be just escalating since Columbine) So, I think the answer at least for me, is to actually take more time to pay attention to those around me.  Not just those that I know and love, but those that are new in my evironment, those that I initially may not like, or respect.  Will it be easy?  Probably not.  I imagine some days I'll forget about this…but we all have had an experience where an unexpected kind statement or act has changed our perspective.  There is always someone who could use a kind word…maybe its the bus driver, or a new co-worker, or the wierd kid in your night class.  I'm not responsible for the events of yesterday, but I can use this event to take more responsibility for those around me. Will this prevent another tragedy?  I won't know ever, but for me this is the best way I know to make sense of things and find a meaning for me that is life affirming.





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6 thoughts on “Virginia Tech. What can it mean for me?

  1. I often find that I am deeply affected by the pain of people around me, whether I know it or not. I try to show kindness and gentleness to everyone, even if it's as simple as letting someone in front of me at the grocery store. I like to imagine that this makes a difference. Perhaps I'm just too much of an optimist, but like you I want to make a difference in whatever way I can.

  2. I really think it DOES make a difference. Someone did that to me when I was having a day to die for and I was amazed that these people actually cared. This older man (with his wife) said "sweetie, you look sad" I'm not a crier but I almost cried on the spot. I know it makes a difference to MOST people, (your kindness). It's just that this guy was completely insane. He wasn't the kind of guy who was just having a bad life and went nuts one day. If he were that kind of guy, he would have probably stopped at killing maybe 1 or 2 (as if THAT was a small amount) before he realized what he had done. He was on some kind of mission that was maniacal, NOT just mental. Not sure if that makes any sense.

  3. I graduated from Tech, so I've spent the past couple of days making sure people I know are ok, and trying to piece together what happened. I know he was referred to counseling by faculty on a number of occasions. His creative writing teacher talked about how dark and disturbing his writing was. His roommate said that he wouldn't talk to him. Clearly there were signs something was wrong? Would someone reaching out have made a difference? I don't know. At this point, maybe it was long past too late. I'm on a Higher Education Service-Learning listserv, related to my job. By the nature of what service-learning is, it involves engaging young people in their communities — especially those least likely to be engaged. It is important and it is effective, but would it have been enough, even at an early age, to help this young man? I don't know. He was obviously deeply disturbed — as displayed not just by his actions but by the writing he left behind as well. Don't get me wrong, I do believe in reaching out to people in trouble, and especially young people before they get into trouble. Otherwise, I wouldn't do the work I do. I like to think you can get through to anyone, and I believe that we at least need to try, but for my own sanity, I sort of have to accept that … I'm not sure what I'm trying to say. And as a grad, this hit me pretty hard. But people are complicated, and they snap, and nobody really understands it, and I'm not sure there's always something that can be done.

  4. This is what happens when you have a society that "shuns" the different. We can't very well send everyone that is different to a social worker. Benefits of a free and open society.

  5. @katiebell:
    So, I think the answer at least for me, is to actually take more time to pay attention to those around me. Not just those that I know and love, but those that are new in my evironment, those that I initially may not like, or respect.
    I've been thinking about this, too. I think it's important for us to build and nurture connections whenever we can.

  6. It is tough. So many people (my husband and I included) have been shunned, picked on, teased, ridiculed, tormented, abused – physically and emotionally by our peers, yet, we never lashed out. The thought of inflicting pain and suffering (besides imagining kicking the ass of whomever *hurt* us that day) never escalated to a level of violence. I cannot imagine what drives a person to this point and truly in my heart believe mental illness has to be an inseparable element.
    I too try to think – what about our society contributes, if anything, to this phenomenon.

    So, I think the answer at least for me, is to actually take more time to pay attention to those around me. Not just those that I know and love, but those that are new in my environment, those that I initially may not like, or respect. Will it be easy?
    I believe this is important for many. Less for those who are like Cho, sitting at the edge of something most of us cannot imagine. But for those who are just unhappy, lost, hurting, those whom may not harm anyone else but themselves, it is important. Very very important. We need to be a more open and neighborly society. We need to remember that we are all in this together, life is not a competition. And we also need to shed our need to be so independent and self-sufficient at times and allow others, even strangers, in to be there when we truly need the kind words, thoughts, and assistance.

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