Thirty-three people were killed and 15 others were wounded at Virginia Tech university on Monday in the deadliest campus shooting rampage in U.S. history.
I graduated from Virginia Tech so this story hit me hard. Ambler Johnston was a girl’s dormitory when I went to school. Lots of my female friends lived there but I do not remember getting above the lobby. I studied Engineering at Virginia Tech and several of my classes were in Norris Hall where most of the students and professors died. I think it was in Norris Hall that I took a Statics class many springs ago. It was a ball buster of a course back then and everybody knew it. You either got it or you didn’t but you couldn’t skip it. It was a required course. I can still remember being in that class and wanting to be someplace else on those spring mornings. It seemed like all my friends were out having a good time while I was locked in a mortal combat with a course that was going to determine my future career. Did I have the right stuff to be an engineer or are was I really a business major in training? It was so unfair! For a college sophomore this was hell on earth, that is until yesterday.
To love and to be loved is a great but somewhat mysterious goal in life. We all aspire to love deeply but it is probably never more difficult than when we are college students. I look fondly at my relationships in my college years. I was incredibly inept at relationships though I did not think that at the time. I desperately wanted to know what it was like to be passionately in love. It didn’t happen for me and for most of my fellow students. I learned pretty quickly that failure to love someone is not the end of the world. Love can be foolish but never give up. Love is always around the corner.
For the shooter his story of love had ended. It was the end of his world for reasons we will never understand. The first people he shot that day point to a crime of passion. Maybe the shootings were about a love lost. Maybe it was about an unrequited love. Love and fury are typically lethal. Why he shot the rest of the people we will never know. They are all dead.
For many of the students at Virginia Tech and elsewhere, a piece of their innocence was ripped away from them yesterday. Worries about passing classes while their friends played in the sun are trivialized now. They will grieve for their lost friends and the professors but the pain will linger on. Was this an act of senseless violence or an act of passion? For many students closure will be painfully hard. It will be hard to forget the people who died when you walk into Ambler Johnston or Norris Hall but you must press on. It will be eery sitting in front of a substitute professor in Norris Hall but the degree requirements will not change. Life is unfair! The students have embarked on the hardest course in their life, getting over this tragedy. Unlike their college courses they cannot drop this course if they find it too tough and there is no time limit to this course. There is no way to restore lost innocence and there is no time limit on grieving.