Collegian: News

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Be thankful

We've all heard about the Virginia Tech shooting by now. We've been inundated with the photos, the sound clips the video footage. It's been horrifying — every single aspect of this situation has been hell for everyone involved.

It's easy to say we can learn from this, or that something good will come from this situation, but is that true? I remember after 9/11 Jon Stewart, of all people, said something profound. A week after the attack on the World Trade Center, tearfully he said on The Daily Show:

"The view... from my apartment... was the World Trade Center.... And now it's gone. And they attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity, and strength, and... and labor, and imagination and commerce, and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the South of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that..."

Simple, but beautiful. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of the United States: a land of opportunity for people from all over the world. Is it ironic that Cho Seung-hui, the man suspected of shooting and killing 32 people at Virginia Tech on Monday was an immigrant from South Korea? Is it ironic that his parents moved him here, possibly looking for opportunity in a new land?

I don't know.

All I know is that our community — the United States; State College; York, Pa; whatever — is made up of thousands of different personalities. Each of them deserve respect and compassion, now especially.

I guess it's this kind of attitude that makes it hard for me to hate Cho Seung-hui. He was obviously a troubled individual in need of a great amount of psychiatric help. More and more I feel bad for him than anything else.

You can blame anyone you want. Maybe his parents didn't hug him enough as a kid — didn't nurture him to the best of their ability. Maybe he was bullied in elementary school. Maybe he listened to too much Marilyn Manson. Maybe he played too many violent video games. Eventually you run out of things to blame and you stop and ask yourself:

"What would I have done in his situation?"

It's scary to think about, and no one can ever definitively answer that question. I guess there is something positive you can take from all this:

Be thankful.

Thank God, or Allah, or whatever you prescribe to, that your circumstances growing up led you to become the person you are today. Be thankful you were never in Cho Seung-hui's position. Be thankful you have some support system. Be thankful and hope that you never have to face what the family of those 33 Virginia Tech students and faculty have to face.