To the Point with Michael Hogan

Michael Hogan

Last Wednesday, April 16th, was the one-year anniversary of a shooting spree at Virginia Tech University that took 32 lives, making it the most deadly school shooting in US history.

The gravity of school related violence was brought to the forefront of the American consciousness once again only 67 days ago when another shooting took place on Valentine’s Day at Northern Illinois University, resulting in the loss of 6 lives.

Somehow, as always seems to happen after tragedy, especially those that do not effect us directly, complacency has set in. It feels as if, in the 2 months that have passed we have somehow forgotten.

On the advent of the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, as we are all remembering and reflecting, I have a few questions to ask. Have we become complacent again? Has the urgency faded already?

Okay, so it didn’t happen here. It happened for away. DeKalb, IL is over 1,000 miles away from us. Blacksburg, VA is nearly 800 miles from our campus. But, that should not be an excuse.

“It will never happen here. We are safe,” that is what most of us are thinking right now. That is exactly what the students at Northern Illinois were probably thinking on February 13th, the day before it did happen there. I’m sure it is probably what they were thinking in Blacksburg, too, until the day that it did happen there.

Complacency is normal. It is part of who we are. It is a logical reaction to the reality of violence in our society. We put our guards down because it makes us feel more comfortable, the alternative is to be looking over our shoulder all of the time. The alternative is paranoia.

So, rather than sitting here thinking that we are somehow invincible let’s take the time to realize that it is entirely possible for someone to come to UMB with a gun. It is entirely possible that we could be the scene of the next tragedy. But, what are we supposed to do about it?

Let’s talk about solutions. If apathy and complacency are somehow habitual responses to our world, how do we combat them? It’s easy. We replace them with something else. We make prevention habitual. We do things to try and keep these tragedies from happening in the first place.

I know it sounds corny, but kindness can heal a lot of wounds. Inclusion can make a world of difference. Most of the people committing these school shootings feel as if they are on the outside looking in, most feel unwanted, neglected. So, we make them feel included, wanted.

They look just like you and I. So, how are we supposed to pick out the ones on the brink? We are not. The simple solution is to try and include everyone. Be kind to every person we meet, not just the ones we think might come to school with a gun. It is really easy when you think about it. How much effort does it take to smile, nod, and help someone out? How hard is it to include another person in your activities? It is nothing, really. Try it. You will see.