Like the rest of the nation, students and employees at Corban are feeling the effects of tragedy and loss at Virginia Tech. A variety of responses have taken place, but we thought we'd select the enclosed items to represent the feelings on campus.
The following thoughts were sent to the local newspaper:
From a student:
Although our minds struggle to comprehend the numbing pain and overwhelming sorrow of the Virginia Tech shootings and we can't help but ask "why," our hearts reach out to the families and communities affected. Even though it wasn't my friend or roomate or professor that was struck down, the tragedy of the event connects us in a personal, intimate way, and we long to surround the survivors with tears and hugs and just hold them for a very long time. The lives of many have been irrevocably changed in an abrupt fashion, and now with the horror behind us, we cling to the certainty that wounds will be healed and hope restored. Our prayers are with them.
From professor Jim Hills:
Living with hope in a fearful world
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Teaching is an exercise in love and hope. I spend my days at Corban College with colleagues that I like and respect, and with bright young people who are fashioning skills and acquiring a vision for a life of joy and service. Together we read and talk and think hard about what it means to be human. Normally I find my work invigorating and rewarding.
But what to say to my students this morning? It's hardly news that wickedness and pain are part of the human landscape. We read history. We know about Iago. We have wrestled with the ancient questions of Job and pondered the sudden plummeting of Oedipus from hero to blind exile. We have studied the Holocaust.
But the murders at Virginia Tech somehow seem -- or at least feel -- different: shocking in their callousness, scale and apparent randomness. They are immediate and unmediated by the kind of literary shaping or historical analysis that may allow us in the classroom to think about the unthinkable.
I can't explain to these young people why someone could do what this man did. I can not calculate for them or for myself the weight of grief he has brought to friends and to families who proudly sent their treasured children off to school to prepare for a full life only to have that life so violently and suddenly ended. I can't imagine the crushing grief and guilt felt by his parents. I can't promise my students that something like this will never happen to them or to someone they love.
But as a Christian teacher talking to Christian students I can remind them that I believe that somehow the love of Christ is great enough to offer redemption for all who suffer. I can remind them -- and myself -- not to take one another for granted. And that in a world beset by bombers and shooters convinced that injuries real or imagined justify mass murders it is still possible -- still necessary —to go without fear, to refuse to allow these people to tell us how to live.
We're talking about love and hope.
From adjunct instructor Stepanie Staley:
Thousands and thousands of tiny flags
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
On Monday, my daughters and I had to make a trip over to Western Oregon University so I could buy a textbook for a class I'm taking. Since all the nearest parking is permit-only, we had to park about six blocks away from the bookstore. Even though it was a pain (literally) hauling the car seat all that way, it provided us the opportunity to notice all the flags.
Thousands and thousands of tiny flags, the kind that would look like they were installing a sprinkler system, except there were too many for that.
"Look at all these flags!" my oldest daughter exclaimed. They were just the right height for her to admire them closely as they lined the sidewalks all down the main walkway of the campus. "Green flags!" she called out. "Oh! Yellow flags! Brown and orange flags!" I knew that something had to be going on. A prank? A political statement about the war? My initial response was amused curiosity, until I saw the sign: Each Flag Represents 500 People.
And then another poster: Holocaust Remembrance Day.
We stopped walking and paused along the sidewalk. The orange flags for the handicapped. The green flags for the prisoners of war. Flags for all the different ethnic groups murdered in the Holocaust. But the most dominant color: yellow. For the Jewish people. More than ten thousand yellow flags waved in the breeze along the path to the bookstore.
We walked farther, but Sydney stopped again, "Look Momma! Little flags," she almost pulled one out of the grass in her enthusiasm. "Little yellow flags!" The lawn in front of the administration building was full of little yellow flags. Each flag represented 500 lives, the lives of Jewish children.
"Can I take one?" Sydney asked.
"No, sorry, honey. They belong to someone else." I stopped short of saying who they belonged to because I really felt like the flags belonged to all of us. We all need to remember.
Monday, of all days, should have been a day of peace. A day to remember that hate and violence is never the answer. A day to hold close the preciousness of life. It should have been filled with beauty as a true stand against the ugliness of hate.
And yet on Monday a gunman murdered 32 people at Virginia Tech. It is the worst shooting massacre on American soil. I watched part of the video footage, and then had to turn it off. It's too much for me. It's too sad. I can't imagine it, any of it. I am haunted by thoughts of the mothers who sent their kids off to college —praying that they'd drive safely, stay away from drugs, look both ways before crossing the street —never imagining the dangers of just sitting in a classroom. My heart aches for the family of those affected by today's tragedy.
Despite the horrors, despite the violence, despite the real monsters under the bed, I have to persist in seeing the good. I can't live a cynical life and be an effective parent. I admit, some days it's a day by day decision. I have to choose the beauty. I have to choose compassion. But for my girls, I make that choice.
I will remember that there is hope even in despair.
I will be the parent who chooses to show her children the good they can do in this world.
I will tell my daughters that it is better to love than to hate, even if it's not always easiest.
We must never forget. And we must never give up on those who have been forgotten.
"I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains." — Anne Frank