I was going to write this yesterday, on the day of mourning, but days of clear weather had exhausted me. So I post my scattered through today. I’m tired. I’m at high altitude. I’m emotionally drained. So forgive me if I get a little preachy or sappy.
The greatest tragedy of the Virginia Tech killing is the lives cut short. The loss of any of us is a tragedy. But that tragedy is diminished when it is, for example, a man of 76 years who lived a full life, survived the Nazis and the Communists and gave his life saving others. While we mourn the loss, it is not nearly as tragic as the loss of, for example a young triple-major residential assistant with a bright future, a big smile and a generous heart. Or any of the other promising bright young people who were just trying to better their lives that morning.
We have no idea what was lost. We will never know which of these kids might have gone on to become a great doctor or write a great novel or heal the sick or invent something that bettered the lives of millions. We will never know. Their potential has been closed to us forever. I am reminded of the great wars and the millions of young men who lost their lives — and the great novels and symphonies and inventions and ideas that died on those battlefields with them. That is the true tragedy – the loss of potential.
But there is hope. A hope that what people will do is live the lives these young people should have. To work harder, live better, love deeper and laugh louder so that, rather than the world being diminished by their loss, the world is grown by it. That their legacy is the efforts of millions to make up for them, to live for them.
There were 27 students cut down before their lives had even begun. And five faculty who still had many years to give. If everyone in the nation were to spend just a few more minutes living and loving and working, the loss we as a species and a nation have suffered would be more than made up for.
The killings can be Cho’s legacy. He’s welcome to it. But let the legacy of the victims be our lives and our future.