Thursday, April 19, 2007
The Virginia Tech Tragedy
College is supposed to be an overall positive experience. You're finally getting to sort everything out in terms of what you want to do in life, where you're headed and learning and growing as a young adult while having some fun in the process.
For many peeps it's the first time you get to step out, live away from home and get your first taste of adulthood. It's the last time in your life when the only responsibilities you have are to get up, go to class and study your butt off unless you also have a job you're juggling to help pay your tuition.
I guess it's why I enjoy walking around on various college campuses when I do follow Dawn to various fencing tournaments. It takes me back to my own college days in that respect. It's hard for me to imagine what it would have been like to have that peace of mind shattered by a gunman suddenly popping up in one of my classes, firing shots at me and my classmates, then to discover a day or so later that he was a classsmate that peeps had been seeing disturbing behavior patterns about for two years leading up to that horrific incident.
Even the folks who weren't in those Norris Hall classrooms that morning are haunted by 'That could have been me' thoughts. I can only imagine what was going through people's minds as their buildings were on lockdown wondering if the incident was over of if their building was next on the shooter's target list.
What about the peeps who for some reason decided not to go to class that morning? I know they feel just as hurt as the gun shop owner who sold Cho the weapons he used.
How would I feel about that? How do you put that behind you and move on with llfe, if you ever do? It's also tough at that age to lose a classmate because up until you get past your college years and your ten-year high school reunion you have this false feeling of immortality. You walk around in your late teens and 20's with this attitude that you have plenty of time to accomplish the things you want to do or get your life together.
There are 32 people that have been tragically taken from us including Cho. But to the Virginia Tech students who may be reading this blog, life does go on. In 1966 The University of Texas suffered a similar tragedy. It took a while but people eventually forgot until Monday that a deadly shooting occurred on its campus. It brought back the flood of memories in Austin and on the UT campus of what Charles Whitman had done almost 41 years earlier.
It was interesting to read Nikki Giovanni's account of her 2005 encounter with Cho in her writing class she was teaching at Virginia Tech. I think what needs to happen in the wake of this tragedy is to strenghten the ability of college professors and administrators to compel folks with disturbing behavior patterns to undergo counseling once its verified.
Would that have prevented the shooting? That's a debatable question. As far as the gun issue I'm going to deal with that another time. In this post I want to continue focusing on the 32 people we lost, the folks at Virginia Tech and their families who are grieving and trying to make sense out of an irrational situation.
We will never know what types of contributions those fallen people would have made to our society and others around the world. We can only guess about that as we mourn them, memorialize them and sadly have to move on.