Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Columbine II

Supposedly, the hot topics on the Virginia Tech campus, according to CNN producer Becky Brittain, had been the men’s basketball team’s season (making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament), the missing statues of the school’s moniker, the Hokie Bird (a prank by students of another university), and the growing controversy over Girls Gone Wild coming to town.

All that doesn’t matter now.

Monday morning. Gun shots fired. Hours later the numbers were released: 32 dead, over 20 wounded.

“He was one of our students,” said the university president of the gunman, described as a young Asian male, 19, who lived on campus.

Excuse the deficient attention span, but I thought I overheard on CNN that motives were “domestic.” What “domestic” dispute would drive a guy two years younger than me to start shooting like that? Was it because of a girl? Was it because of family issues? Missing laundry?

I’m too young—or too ignorant—to remember Columbine. I really only became aware of it after watching Michael Moore’s documentary. I just knew that the term “Columbine” was synonymous to guns, innocent lives lost, lost youngsters losing control.

I, and perhaps many others, was living under the premise that no such incident would ever happen again. Drive-bys—fine, we’d continue to read about them. Extrajudicial killings—par for the course in our country (especially for journalists). Yes, we deal with global terrorists. Yes, wars broke out in the Middle East involving thousands of servicemen from armies of numerous nations.

But surely there’d never be such a horrific incident within the confines of a learning institution ever again…

Thirteen people died in Columbine eight years ago. Thirty-two died on that campus just this past Monday. Not only did it happen again, but on a larger scale. It’s surreal to think about it.

The “worst ever,” says The New York Times. Let’s hope it stays that way.

I can’t imagine going back to school had I been a Virginia Tech student. Can’t imagine attending class in that hall where the shooting took place. Can’t imagine wanting to walk around alone anymore, even if in broad daylight.

There are 36,000 students, faculty members, and staffers in that university. Surely, not a single one of them will ever forget what had happened. Some will probably never recover, for doing so seems like the most sadistic of things.

I believe that there are personal incidents that happen in people’s lives that aren’t meant to be forgotten. I believe that some power made certain things transpire to continue haunting us for the rest of our lives, to eat away at us until we’re on our own deathbed—perhaps less frequently as time passes, but it never goes away.

It’s what 36,000 students, faculty members, and staffers got on Monday. What they make out of it is none of our business. I can’t fault them if it takes years—decades even—for them to figure it all out.

And despite it being a moment that was technically shared by 36,000, I imagine that the horror for every one of them is different and very personal, which probably makes the following days, the following years, the following decades, all the more lonelier for each of them.

In the state of uncertainty I constantly feel, I always try to make my personal pleas to God every night before I go to bed. Tonight things don’t change, but I don’t know …it feels like He has bigger problems right now.


It appears that I’m Dumaguete-bound. That’s worth praying thanks for.


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