Eugene Cho

remembering virginia tech – one year later

” We will never forget…”

April 16 is the Day of Remembrance – marking one year – of the tragedy of the Virginia Tech massacre – the worst school shooting in U.S. history. 

On this day, the Virginia Tech community reflects on the vibrant lives of the 32 students and faculty who were tragically taken from us a year ago. Through light, art, and music we pay tribute to each and every person we lost. We gather to honor our friends, colleagues, and family members. We will never forget. [visit the VT remembrance website

Even in the midst of the chaos, confusion, and complexities of the various issues of violence, gun control, prejudice, mental illness, and others…we must foremost remember the lives and stories of those who lost their lives in this tragedy – all 33.I can’t even imagine what this past year must have been like for the family of the victims. I can’t imagine what this past year must have been like for Seung Hui Cho’s parents and sister. 

Personally, the Virginia Tech tragedy continues to impact my thoughts.  While there have been countless national and global events over the past couple decades, four events have had a very prominent impact on my life:  the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster,  the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sampoong Department Store [Seoul, Korea] collapse [one of my church youth group kids died in this tragedy], and of course, the Virginia Tech shootings.  

The Virginia Tech tragedy exposed a great deal.  It exposed what we all already know: We live in a broken and fallen word.  It was never meant to be like this. I say this not for it to be an easy answer, explanation or excuse but to illuminate our collective need for the mercy, compassion, and grace of Christ.

The event also exposed my self-centeredness.  The following thought progression was a snapshot of my warped thoughts:

  • “Wow, how could this have happened? What a tragedy. i must pray for these folks.”
  • “What? They think an Asian man did it? That’s impossible. Asians don’t do stuff like that. But just in case, I hope it’s not a Korean person.”
  • “S#@t. It is a Korean person. Why do the news keep insisting he’s a foreigner?!? Is there going to be backlash?  Do I send my kids to school?”

Rather than thinking and praying for the victims and their families, I was too engrossed in my own thoughts and agenda.  Today, I took some time to re-read the stories of the 32 victims which the families have approved and released. [official biographies and photos of the 32 victims]

Other worthwhile reads that make you think [updated]: Don Imus and Virginia Tech – a year later [Melvin Bray]; Virginia Tech Mourns/Heals [cnn]

Here’s the guest column [Seattle Post Intelligencer] I wrote  last year [published on Tuesday, April 24, 2007].  My hope for the column was not to justify Seung Hui Cho’s actions but to somehow be a source of healing and deeper understanding of the immigrant experience and the reactions of the Korean/Asian community.  Much of this editorial comes from some initial thoughts shared in a blog entry entitled, ‘Making Sense of the Senseless.’

..Personally, the emotions have been even more convoluted because of my bicultural identity. I was born in Korea, immigrated to the United States at the age of 6 and thus am Korean American. I am also a U.S. citizen; I am a Korean American male immigrant and even share the same surname as the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho.

Once I discovered that the gunman was Korean American, I had some initial fears of racial backlash. As a proud citizen of this country, I do not believe there will be any overt backlash. It would be nonsensical for people to associate the heinous crime to Koreans or Korean Americans simply because of Seung-Hui Cho’s ethnicity.

In that same vein, it would have been preposterous and unjust for us to place blame on African Americans for the actions of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo in the Beltway Sniper attacks of 2002 or to ask white Americans to share blame with Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombings of 1995.

But in the days after the identity of the gunman was revealed, many in the media and larger culture may have been perplexed by the responses of Koreans and Korean Americans. Many Koreans expressed embarrassment, shame and even guilt. State Sen. Paul Shinn fought back his tears as he apologized to fellow lawmakers. Even despite being reassured by others that an apology was not necessary, he continued…. I share in deep pain, embarrassment and shame. I share in the deep pain because when I see images of this young man, I don’t just see a “crazy Asian killer,” I also see someone whose life story sounds very similar to mine. Such words as lonely, isolated and quiet were often used to describe my younger life as I struggled to fit in as an immigrant. [read full article]

 

Filed under: religion, ,

7 Responses

  1. RK says:

    It’s hard to believe that one year has already passed. Like you, the VT massacre will be one of the events I will always remember where and what I was exactly doing.

  2. Marianne says:

    it shows what a life without Jesus is like…empty and lost…no hope….I sometimes wonder how christianity failed in some way…because no one reached the boy in time…..if christianity would go back to biblical roots, we would see more people delivered and saved..and less of this horror…….right now, there is too much emphasis on money, personal empowerment, and success, rules, and tithing……there is not enough equipping of the saints to work in the community to help others. I hope all this improves…and less of this kind of tragedy occurs…….my prayers go to the kids at the school….and their families….

    marianne
    http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/

  3. Derek says:

    It’s too simple to say that Christianity failed in some way. We all know it’s not perfect but we also discovered how numerous people, churchs, christians, school friends, and family members reached out to Cho.

  4. I can’t believe it’s been a year since that tragedy. Just thinking about brings back so many difficult thoughts, those thoughts of guilt, shame, and anger. But thanks for expressing so well, what I could not articulate back then.

  5. J. R. Miller says:

    I don’t think I ever looked at Cho Seung-Hui as a Korean, but simply as a man who was, as you say, fallen and in need of a savior. He did not reflect poorly on Koreans. He was instead a reflection on humanity. What struck me most was that anyone of us could be the next shooter, because life without God is suicide.

  6. Esemare says:

    Thank you for taking the time to remember. You are right in saying that the Virginia Tech shootings taught us much about the world we live in. While it taught us the obvious, one of the greatest lessions it taught was the importance of community and the ability to cross cultural barriers and become one. The way VT banded together and the leadership the institution’s administrators showed is the best example of community that I have seen in my lifetime.

  7. RK says:

    Wow, is there another RK? The one above is not me. Hmm.

    JR, I’m with you. It was a “relection on humanity”. Yes, without God’s love, truth and mercy, “anyone of us could be the next shooter”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

my tweets

JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK

advertisements

Blog Stats

  • 3,442,760 hits