We have heard so much in the news lately, and so many e-mails from President Penley and the university about the terrible events of April 16th. I would like for us to step back for a moment, away from the horror of the Virginia Tech massacre and away from the discussions of how to stop the tragically insane from harming those in their communities.
Let us consider an instance of greatness – of the finest in humanity that also manifest itself that morning. I am speaking, of course, of the actions of Professor Liviu Librescu. From what I understand, this man closed his classroom door and blocked it with his body while he told his students to escape out the windows. He was shot through the door five times before collapsing and, as a result of his final actions all but one of his students survived. And in the room furthest down the hall, a clever TA and his class had time and the presence of mind to block their door in such a way that no one was injured in that room.
Instead of nurturing the fears that flow through campuses across the United States, which have already resulted in the arrest of a foolish and insensitive CU student, might we try to discover what motivates a man to lay down his life for others? How does moral integrity evolve and grow within a human spirit? Who among my co-workers, classmates and professors have exhibited inklings of the greatness of heart demonstrated by the Librescus of the world? Where does courage of this magnitude come from and how can I get some to share with others in times of need?
Colorado State University prides itself on being recognized as among the top character building institutions of the United States. Give us a chance to be emboldened for the sake of the good. Help us to avoid cowering in dark corners and narrow minds during times of crisis, but instead to step forward to face reality with open eyes and courageous hearts. I know that this letter sounds absurd and idealistic. And I am afraid that some will read it as a means to belittle the grief of those affected by the Virginia Tech tragedy. Yet I also know that of those that died on April 16th, two people did so willingly. One died out of madness and one out of greatness. Madness will always be among us, the result of the frailty of the human mind. Together let us find a way to ensure that greatness will, too.
student in the Department of Philosophy
The Graduate Degree Program in Ecology