On October 1st, a massacre took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The gunman was shot dead by the police, with 9 innocent people were killed, and at least 10 injured. Our nation was again traumatized by a heavy tragedy.
The gunman was identified as Chris Harper Mercer, a 26-year-old Roseburg resident, who was equipped with body armor and was heavily armed with 6 weapons at the scene. The officials said Mercer was depressed and he felt the world was against him.
Mercer was described by his former acquaintances and social media status as a withdrawn young man from the army who spent a lot of time on the Internet. Prior to the tragedy, Douglas Country Sheriff John Hanlin told the reporters, “He is a local resident and I know personally I haven’t heard of any warning signs coming from this person.”
The investigation is still ongoing and the precise motive has not yet surfaced.
Quite similar to a few campus shooting incidents in the past, the shooter was young, isolated, quiet, filled with hatred towards the world and showed no sign of their capability to do something horrifying as such.
While we are busy showing empathy to the victims’ families and friends, perhaps we should also wonder what kind of horrible experience these shooters have encountered in modern society that could evoke such rage in a young man for him to give up his entire future just to kill.
If he had a few friends, wouldn’t they have more reasons to linger among us? If they were more included in our society, couldn’t a tragedy like this be avoided? If someone took the step to say hi first and got to know him, mustn’t he say hi back and give this world another chance? If we were capable of showing more empathy to the ones that were isolated, depressed, awkward or maybe just too shy, wouldn’t this society become a more caring place for all of us?
As a college student, we have way passed the “mean girls” stage and deep inside you know we all want to be involved in one way or another. If you see someone that’s having a bad day or always sits in the corner, spare some time and talk to them because they might just surprise you.
We have the responsibility to learn to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and to be more understanding. A little more compassion with a little less selfhood would make a significant difference. We are interdependent beings, and therefore without a functional community we will have nothing. With all the hate crimes and campus shootings happening in our nation, we need empathy now more than ever.