Moving forward in a time of tragedy


Moving forward in a time of tragedy


In my opinion
By: Ossie Bladine |
Issue date: 4/19/07 Section: Commentary

In the wake of a tragedy that questions many aspects of American society, the community of Virginia Tech was given solace by a poem written by Hokie professor Nikki Giovanni during Tuesday's convocation. (The entire poem is posted at giovanni_transcript.php.)

The poem tells the story of mourning ("We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend and cry, and sad enough to know we must laugh again"), senselessness ("We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it") and resiliency ("We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be, we are alive to the imagination and the possibility, we will continue to invent the future"). Giovanni finished, her hands in the air, with the words, "We will prevail, We will prevail, We will prevail, We are Virginia Tech," which was followed by a standing ovation and collective "Let's Go Hokies" chant.

"We felt alive, we felt invincible," wrote the editorial board of VT's student newspaper, Collegiate Times. Giovanni's poem is one of many invigorating tools that will help the process of mourning the 33 people who died Monday.

The stupid act of violence that occurred in Blacksburg, VA, proves that by no means can a single person break a community. One can kill another and one can wound a society; but wounds heal, albeit with scars, and companionship, understanding and a common sense always prevails.

Though it's difficult to do, this tragedy must be separated from other like societal disasters. The connection of the Virginia Tech tragedy and recent high school shootings was made quickly. After the initial focus on the specific event, media members and politicians from around the world were quick to deem this another American crisis that goes hand-in-hand with Thurston, Columbine and others. This is a typical answer from a national media system that has spent the last few days, and will spend many days to come, unraveling every possible detail and encouraging all types of debate pertaining to the killings, and comparing them to prior events. From the inner psyche of the killer to the indictments against America's gun culture, the media cannot help but pervade society with contemplative specifications, because that is its job. Similarly, it is the government's job to do a systematic review of the situation and seek improvements. But these are all thoughts and while thoughts produce and evaluate a crisis, the real crisis is the deep feelings and raw emotions of those affected.

This current murder spree is separate, however, because it puts a mark on a new set of feelings and emotions - the ones connected to higher education. This attack did not happen in a setting of confined growth were stereotypes heavily influence social scenes and where goals are, for the most part, laid out for you. This attack happened in a setting where converging paths and ideas coexist and roam freely. This happened in an arena of community development. This senseless attack happened in a setting where the ultimate goal is finding a common sense.

As University student Stephanie Strahan said during Tuesday night's vigil in the EMU Amphitheater "When you go to college and it happens in another college, you feel like you're in the same community."

As we take a step back this week to contemplate, it's important to remember why we are on this campus in Eugene. Sure, everyone needs personal development and self fulfillment, but at the end of the day, we all possess an inner desire to strengthen our community. Express ideas openly and open up to ideas of others; discuss, debate and decide with a communal rationale. Take time to celebrate who we are and what we are doing: We are Oregon, and we are inventing the future.


Image by:Grayce Bentley

Original Source: Daily Emerald
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Ossie Bladine (Author)/Grayce Bentley (Image)




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Ossie Bladine (Author)/Grayce Bentley (Image), “Moving forward in a time of tragedy,” The April 16 Archive, accessed March 1, 2024,