In light of any tragedy, the best we can do is learn


In light of any tragedy, the best we can do is learn


April 25, 2007

Until last Monday, the only things I knew about Virginia Tech University were that it was located in Virginia and the school colors -- orange and maroon -- were ugly.

Maybe that's because they are the colors of Baylor's two biggest conference rivals.

Or maybe they just don't go together.

But the tragedy on April 16 interrupted my ignorance.

As I watched the fallout from the shootings, I found myself removed from violence. I even found myself forgetting that a distant cousin is studying engineering there.

When I turned off the television, however, questions began to race through my mind.

They weren't the usual "why did he do it?" questions.

"What's a hokie?" "Where's Blacksburg?" "Did anyone famous go there?" and, once again, "Who thought of putting orange and maroon together?"

Well, for those who are as inquisitive as I am, here are the answers.

According to the school's Web site, "hokie" refers to a modified version of the first school spirit yell and Blacksburg is roughly 200 miles west of Richmond.

Famous alumni include Johnny Oates, who managed the Texas Rangers from 1995 to 2001, Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick and the creator of the gold safe at Fort Knox.

And as for the colors, a committee changed the colors from black and gray -- which the school Web site listed as "resembling prison uniforms" -- to burnt orange and Chicago maroon in 1896.

Well, at least it's a step in the right direction.

After I found the answers to these questions, I thought I would be satisfied. But my curiosity returned a few minutes later. Maybe it's because I'm a trivia nerd. Or maybe I'm just human.

There's something compelling about disorder -- it's the reason we tap our brakes and strain our necks, peeking over the concrete barrier between our vehicle and the mangled car wreck on the other side of the road.

It's also the reason the instant our friend says, "This water fountain is nasty!" we rush to taste the water, only to find our friend's opinion is the same as ours. We could have spared our taste buds the pain if we had just listened. It may be a morbid fascination, but we learn from it anyway.

Life's trials all have lessons, and it's up to each person to retain the concept we have to learn. And if you're lucky enough, you can watch it on CNN instead of outside your classroom window.

The point is, each of us is incredibly lucky to have the ability to learn from other people's troubling situations, and it's up to us to discover what that is.

It could be as simple as taking a second glance behind you before you walk into your dorm room, or learning where Blacksburg, Va., is.

Brian Bateman is a senior history and journalism major from Garland.

Opinions expressed in the Lariat are not necessarily those of the Baylor administration, the Baylor Board of Regents or the Student Publications Board.


Original Source: The Lariat
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BRIAN BATEMAN, “In light of any tragedy, the best we can do is learn,” The April 16 Archive, accessed December 5, 2023,