Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Old School

The numbness that I feel from the shootings at NIU is starting to wear off. The tragedy is starting to sink in. I am learning about those who were killed or injured which makes it more sad.

As an alum of Northern Illinois University, I spent my share of time in Cole Hall where the shootings took place. Most memorable was Coms 356 where we studied classic films such as Citizen Kane, Stagecoach and Annie Hall. This class opened my eyes to the different ways that film directors tell their story: lighting, sound, style and editing. Looking back, I feel fortunate that I took a class that helps me appreciate and understand the movies that I see today.

However, the memories of the students who witnessed this tragedy and escaped with their lives will be different. Their memories are likely to haunt them for the rest of their lives. They won’t remember the times they sat in class and gained a greater understanding of what they were studying. They won’t remember the times spent laughing with their friends, passing notes or falling asleep during their lectures.

News programs and radio talk shows in Chicago are exploring why this tragedy happened. I can’t be sure, but here is my take: as humans, we want to make our mark and have an impact on the world. We want our lives to stand for something. For some, this is easy to figure out. Some people are fortunate to stumble upon the perfect career and meet all the right people at the perfect time in their lives. These people always appear to have it all.

For others, one’s purpose and path in life can be difficult to figure out. When this happens, life can feel lonely, dark and filled with despair. The human need to make an impact on the world can be carried out negatively and I think this was the case on Thursday. I’m sure there is much more to complicated than this, but I think some people decide that it is much easier to have a negative impact on the world than it is to strive to make the world a better place. Ultimately, I cannot possibly understand why someone would do this.

What I will do in my own way of having a positive impact is to donate money to my alma mater for a Scholarship Fund that has been set up. Other than my prayers, that is the best I can do.

For another take, here's Chicago Sun-Times columnist and NIU alum Mark Brown's column from Friday.

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