There was a shooting at my school today. Is there a right way to phrase this sort of tragedy? No matter how you strew the words together it sounds too understated, like the words roll too smoothly out of my mouth. Words like “shooting” and “school” should never run together so seamlessly and I’m almost bitter at the very words themselves for not causing me to choke or stutter as I speak them. Over and over again I’ve struggled to turn words over in my head in a hopeless attempt to describe the way I feel. I feel stupid for how disheveled my mind and heart have become. I didn’t know the victims, I wasn’t held at gunpoint, I wasn’t even near the building in which the incident occurred. How could I possibly sit here and feel sorrow when others have lost so much more? When an innocent student died, others were injured and still others placed their own lives at risk, in compromising positions, to help disarm the gunman. How can I compare my feelings to that of those people? To state my discomfort, my sadness is to belittle the pain these people have seen, and to undermine the horror these students and faculty faced is the last thing I hope to do.
It is difficult to know where to begin, I have so many thoughts swimming around inside my brain and yet, for once, so few words to describe them. On this blog, and otherwise I have made it clear that I have very few ties to my school (relational or otherwise). During my two years here I have been somewhat of a black sheep, I’ve laughed off my feelings of being an outsider and attributed my isolation to the people at my school being “weirdos”. Today I feel proud of the students at Seattle Pacific. One of my peers was robbed of his life and I cannot begin to express my remorse and most sincere grief for his family and friends. I think of the many faces I’ve encountered on campus, the “annoying questions” my peers have asked in class, the long lines at the campus coffee shop. I think of all the irritation I’ve felt, and in this tragic time it has dissipated. I feel immensely defensive of this group of people. I’ve found myself asking myself why bad things would happen to these good people. Of course I can’t speak for an entire population of students but the majority of students I have encountered at SPU have been unquestioningly kind hearted, “good” people. How many times do you meet people in life that you can honestly and accurately describe as “good”? Yet whether the victims of this atrocious incident were “good” or not there is no question that they did not deserve any of this.
It’s true what they say about tragedy uniting people. I am shaken up and my mind numb and my heart heavy. I cannot send enough thoughts, prayers and tears for the victims and their families. In moments of sorrow, in times of tragedy there is often shock above all else, even above sadness. Until something unjust shakes up your world on a deeply personal level you can become numb to the sadness of the world (you have to to be able to function regularly in daily life). But for now, I grieve, not just for the SPU students injured or killed but for the victims of the UCSB shootings, for the students in the greek system at UW who have dealt with threats of shootings all week long, and for every person who must live in fear worrying about sending their children off to school. There is so much pain and suffering out there it can be difficult to find joy but we must remember how much beauty is left in the world even at times like this. The unity among students at SPU and the support given to SPU students by UW and SU students has been a beacon of hope during a time of hopelessness for so many. We must think of all the beauty and goodness left around us and be happy.