Like everyone, I was both shocked and saddened by the mass murder that took place recently at Virginia Tech. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims, as well as to the family of the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho. The healing process will be long and painful, and the scars of loss will always remain.
How could someone do such a thing? I’m sure that many professionals and experts will offer their opinions as to why this senseless massacre happened. Was it because Mr. Cho was mentally ill and did not get proper treatment? Should authories have forced him into long-term inpatient treatment? Was he exposed to too much media violence in the form of video games and movies? Was his access to handguns too easy?
I don’t think there is a simple answer. Life is complicated. While it is sometimes reassuring to identify a single factor at the root of things so that it can be easily changed, the reality is that a combination of numerous, interacting factors is the likely answer.
Life can be beautiful at some times and so painful in others. I think that the best we can do is try to help each other out on this journey that is filled with the tragic and the sublime. Our connections…our relationships with others are what heal us through our suffering and help us to achieve our greatest joys. It is clear that Mr. Cho felt disconnected, hurt, and isolated from others. Perhaps becoming disconnected from others contributed to his mental illness. We have all felt the pain of feeling isolated from time to time. It’s a tough place to be, and it seems that Mr. Cho always felt this way.
Although questions will remain as to why this tragedy occurred, what we do know is that we cannot take this life for granted. Our time here is finite. Because our happiness and that of others resides in our relationships, we should make it a priority to establish and maintain strong relationships. The joy that we experience in life is inextricably linked to our relationships. When we suffer, our connections with others are what allow us to heal. Pulling inward and disconnecting will only lead to more suffering.
In the past when I was around people who experienced loss or grief, I always wished that I knew the “right” thing to say. Ironically, searching for the right thing to say stopped me from doing the right thing…just trying to connect to a person who is suffering by showing empathy and concern the best that I can.
As you move forward, I encourage you to be mindful of the importance of your relationships with others. Through our highs and lows, we need to stay connected with others. To the extent that we do this, we will feel more complete and fulfilled…as will the people with whom we connect.