It’s hard to believe, but it’s already been a year since the Virginia Tech massacre. It’s still hard to wrap my mind around what happened that day. I remember coming home from school to find the regular TV programming interrupted with breaking news of a school shooting. In the end, 33 families were struck with the death of a loved one and 27 more with injuries.

I cannot begin to fathom what could drive anyone to do what Seung-Hui Cho did. Some people say he is a coward for killing himself instead of facing the consequences while others say we should feel sorry for him, that he had a mental disorder. It’s not my place to say who is right and wrong, only that what happened was a terrible tragedy that no one should ever have to face.

A tangent: Though I cannot say that I was directly affected by what happened – I was in California at the time – I was shaken when I learned the shooter was Korean. I think nearly every Korean in both America and Korea felt a collective feeling of shame. Ethnic nationalism and collectivism is a part of Korean culture. We feel pride with any outstanding Koreans like Michelle Wie and disgrace with the “bad apples” like Seung-Hui Cho regardless of their location.

Getting back on topic, despite the fact that so many people’s lives were taken by this rampage, I think we saw once again that there is hope for humanity. As with the disaster that came with Katrina, we saw many people and organizations give support, aid, and sympathy. During the shootings, many individuals, like Professor Liviu Librescu, died while protecting others. There is always someone who is willing to lend a helping hand in a time of desperate need. Hope inevitably shines through the darkness of tragedy.

However, I’d like not to think that only terrible events will bring out the good in people, that people will give help only when there is an overwhelming lack of it. I refuse to believe that we are capable of only that. I want to believe that we can be caring, sympathetic people not only in times of disaster, but always.

I challenge everyone to do one good deed a day for a week. Go out of your way to do a friend a favor. Give a stranger change at the local Starbucks. Invite someone over for dinner. Do it without expecting something in exchange and without an ulterior motive. Do it for the sake of helping someone out.

It’ll make you feel better and brighten someone’s day.

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