As the news about what was going on inside the heart of VT shooter Cho Seung-Hui broke yesterday, followed with information about how others had perceived him throughout his formative years (to sum up – either invisible or really weird), it struck me that there are a lot of Chos walking around this planet.
There are few of us so damaged and demonized that we’ll go out and buy a gun and write a ranting manifesto that channels odd Biblical/literary references, rage at the capitalist system and Columbine. But the evil soundtrack that looped in Chos soul is background music for a lot of people.
Cho Seung-Hui, apparently, was a strange, troubled, quiet kid. People either ignored him or used him as the butt of their jokes. How many of us have been where Cho has been – strange, quiet kids who’ve been ignored or teased? Or worse, abused?
I remember what it was like to be the weird new kid at a new school in 8th grade. At first I was ignored by all the other insecure kids, who’d already formed their middle school survival cliques. I was clumsy and didn’t feel very attractive (long straight blonde hair parted down the middle was the style, OK?) and somehow, had been tagged with the nickname “Monkey” from the 7th graders on our new block. I reacted negatively the first couple of times they tried the name out, which meant I was branded with that horrible name for the rest of the year. I can still barely type the word “Monkey” without a rush of shame and adrenaline.
That pain opened the door in my life to promiscuity (what better way to make some friends than to give some of myself away? Plus, maybe I wouldn’t feel so ugly if someone wanted me even for a few minutes). Other things that entered through that open door were suicidal thoughts, drug use, a complete disengagement academically. Not one good thing came into my soul as a result of being first ignored then teased.
And though most of us probably can point to some time or other in our lives when being ignored and being teased has happened to us, most of us try to make sure that we never have to feel like that ever, ever, ever again. Which means that if there’s a weird, invisible guy like Cho in our lives, we tend to keep our distance so none of that weirdness ever splashes us.
Without Christ, I am capable of opening the same door to evil, rage and despair that Cho did. Without Christ, I am completely focused on self-preservation instead of pouring my life into the lives of those around me – which include a few people moving in the wrong direction on the Cho continuum. Even in Christ, I love me too much.