Friday, April 20, 2007

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
(-John 15:13)

I waited a while before posting this, due to my natural hesitance to speak out during times of mourning. Even when people close to me die, I feel uncomfortable talking about it, or reflecting on it--at least out loud. In the face of the shooting at Virginia Tech, I sort of shut down for a few days and chewed it over in my mind. Not that it makes any sense to me now; I doubt it ever will make any sense to anyone.

What happened at Virginia Tech made pretty much every college student in America sit up and think, "That could have been my campus." Every college has its share of angry people, rebellious people, people that are the subject of jokes about "going postal" or "cracking under the strain" and doing exactly what Cho Seung-hui did. Except now the unthinkable has become real and the jokes have become cruel mockeries of what we thought were humor.

When you're young, you're invincible (or at least you think you are, which is almost as good). You bounce back from emotional and physical trauma and you quickly forget the pain and agony of loss and sorrow. We think, "This kind of thing couldn't happen to us." But it did. The mere fact that it happened is reason enough to believe it could happen again. What haunts every mind that thinks--or knows--it could happen again is, What would I do if such a thing happened to me? Or, in the words of Theoden, "What can men do against such reckless hate?"

I have written before about "holding back the demons," or "keeping the monsters at bay." One man did just that--literally. Professor Liviu Librescu of the Engineering Department of Virginia Tech held the door of his classroom shut while his students escaped through the windows. In the process of doing so, he was shot five times and killed. In the mere three days since the massacre, numerous Facebook groups have sprung up mourning his death and praising the incredible courage it took for him to lay down his life for those he was teaching.

It is hard, and sometimes seems pointless, to look for the hidden gems of decency and bravery hidden in the midst of such senseless tragedy--but they're there, and they can give us some measure of comfort in our grief. We can only hope, and pray, for people like Professor Librescu when the monsters come to our doors.

Professor Librescu, Zichrono Livracha.

(I'm still flying.)


Blogger Dymphna said...

I posted on this, too. We all want to identify with the heroism of this man, and we all pray that the small destructive part of us that is like Cho -- the loser part -- never becomes predominant.

Needless to say, I feel sorry for his parents. Being from an Asian culture, they will find it hard, if not impossible, to go on. i found a news article from the Irish Times which translated a news story from can feel the collective shame others bear.

11:53 AM  

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