I read online that today marks one year since the Virginia Tech school shooting where 32 people were gunned down by the 23-year old Seung-Hui Cho who, after finishing his rampage, turned the gun on himself.
I had forgotten the date, but the event sticks in my memory. I remember sitting at work a year ago as the breaking news stories came flooding in, and a continual stream of updates followed thereafter. I felt a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I was personally shocked at the stories, and was equally shocked at the callous responses of some of my co-workers. I walked out of the office that day feeling a mix of anger and confusion; I’m sure many others felt the same.
That this could happen today, on a college campus, in the United States of America, is still unreal to me. How could there be so much evil? What brought it to the door of Norris Hall that morning, and to the front doors of youth all across America? How could a college campus, a place of education and endeavor, dreams and ambition be turned to a home for terror and fear?
College should not be that way. That is not college! I rarely, if ever, went to my classes fearing that anything bad (other than the day’s test) could ever, or would ever happen to me. There was no fear, no anxiety that I would be physically harmed in any way whatsoever. I’m sure these students and faculty lived their days similar to me. For the most part, we all do.
Even after these horrific events those of us not directly impacted tend to bounce back. We return to life as normal. We say that we will remember, but we forget (at least I do) and it makes me think, in the aftermath, what actually is different? Are people different? Certainly those who lived through it are, but what about the rest of us? Do we look at our lives in a different light? Are our perspectives changed? Are our hearts stirred?
The question I ask myself is, “Am I a different person?” “How would I live differently had I gone through this?” I don’t personally ever want to experience what those VT students had to in order to change my life, gain an eternal perspective, and draw some lasting lessons from April 16, 2007. That day should give us pause right now; time to stop, think, and reflect on life in the present, today. Time even to change ourselves where necessary. It should make us more grateful for life, for a new day; simply that we woke up this morning, and that we face a day that we will face only once before moving onto the next, if we’re so fortunate. Realize, we must, that nothing is guaranteed!
What would I tell myself if this were how I thought? I’d tell myself to make it count; to live for something bigger than myself and my small and selfish daily desires. All of us, I believe, would be emboldened to not take life as it comes, but to fill our hours, days and years with passionate and inspired living and to not live in regret of wasted time, “for the days are evil.”
That is my thought: Make it count! Make it count that you were alive today, that you were present and accounted for, for there are 32 who are not. What else can we do? What other adequate remembrance is there? Change is our greatest memorial. And so I say to you, “Make it count!”
God bless the students of Virginia Tech and the families of those lost.