I wrote this exactly one year ago today. It is still relevant, and I hope you’ll take another minute to read what I have to say.
This was an open letter I posted to my Facebook page and it really doesn’t have much to do with political, economic, or cultural liberty, but I still think it is very important relative to having a true Humane Condition on Earth. It was originally directed to fellow students, faculty, staff, and locals of my home town Virginia Tech University. Born in raised in Blacksburg, and the massacre of April 16th, 2007….was my freshman year. Thanks for checking the page today, and please share/comment/like/re blog. Awareness is crucial.
Today is an important day. Not just for Blacksburg, and Virginia Tech, but for the world, and humankind. It might not be the first thing everybody thinks of around the world today, like it is for people that are here, or were here. It is still a very important day for civilization, and society. Civilization and society are global now. The world is smaller then it once was. Our troubles are shared and the troubles of others are shared among all of us. We truly are one Human ‘Race’.
Today is a day of remembrance; a day of sadness, remorse, regret, acceptance and defiance. Today is the day in which maintaining one’s identity, self-worth, and PRINCIPLES can be put to the test.
No matter how strong the man or woman, emotions as strong as those that accompany a day like April 16th, here in our community, are more than any one person can deal with. That is why we most often handle trying situations best when we confront them together. This is shown in many ways in Blacksburg on or around the 16th with different memorial services around town and on campus. I believe this is a great effort by people with noble causes. Humans need comfort and reassurance to maintain there principles through tough times, and the memorials are convenient and necessary, even for those who are away from family and friends.
There is a method to my madness, I wanted to express the importance I feel about maintaining principles in trying times, and I want to demonstrate how I feel it is relevant today. We have all seen the signs, or received the e-mails notifying students and locals alike that there will be a “3.2 mile jog”, and other references to the number “32” themed events. Many people, perhaps even seniors at Virginia Tech, who weren’t here on that day in 2007, probably don’t even stop to think, “does that count the shooter?”. But those of us who experienced that day NEVER LOST COUNT. **I attempted to contact several of the event organizers to get a statement about the reasoning behind leaving out the 33rd American citizen, and Virginia Tech student that DIED on April 16th.** I am fully aware that the easiest reaction to this ‘count’ is something like “well yea, I guess you want to forget about “Cho”. I will admit that is how I felt originally. That didn’t settle with me and I have a sneaking suspicion that it might not settle with some of you either. To forget Cho is to waste the most expensive lesson we, as a community, have ever paid for. Hindsight is 20/20 we all know, but now we know HOW a mentally ill person can go without the needed care. Cho taught us these lessons, let us not forget them or we will be doomed to repeat them. If you disagree with me I respect your opinion and I know this is a sensitive subject and I will continue to try not to offend anyone in any way, but I must give my side of the story. I have been accused of being “insensitive” to the victims families when I say that we should remember the life and death of ALL 33 people. I understand the logic behind this accusation, but I do think it is faulty. I know that the shooter was not a ‘victim’ in the same sense as the other people that lost there lives. But take a moment to put yourself in the frame of mind that it would take for you to commit such heinous crimes. That is not a healthy mind. This man was SICK. He was diseased just like someone with Cancer, Diabetes, or the Flu.
Cho WAS a VICTIM, a victim of societal neglect, exacerbated by mental illness. I am NOT asking us, as a community, to take on the guilt or feeling of responsibility for his death. His mental illness paved the way, and his rage drove him. Social Service Bureaucrats allowed him to “fall through the cracks”.
Seung-Hui Cho was a member of the Human Race. That’s the same one as me and you folks. And he died. He died that day because his disease was terminal, and unfortunately, he took 32 others with him.
I have heard “character” defined many ways. There are two definitions that have always resonated with me; your quality of character can first be judged by what you do when nobody’s lookin’, and second, what you do when you have power. Neither of those definitions are all-encompassing, but between the two I feel like I understand the idea well.
Our character MUST stay strong throughout these trying times. We must maintain our principles throughout.
Most specifically we must maintain our principles of respect and reverence to the entire Human Race of which we are apart. We cannot simply forget the bad, or the ugly. We must accept the world as it is, and we must forgive those who have disrupted our own peace of mind, forgiveness is the only way to reclaim that peace of mind.
To remember 33, is to forgive the 33rd, which is to free ourselves of resentment, fear, and anger. We can now be free again. Please tell the directors at these events tomorrow, that you want to remember 33.
Help me speak up about this.
Talk with your friends about this.
I want this to be discussed, if it is truly unpopular I will stop pushing for it.