“I Don’t Like Mondays”

Sumner Ellsworth

“I don’t like Mondays” is a song that was written in response to a school shooting in 1979. When the shooter was asked what her motivation was, she replied, “I don’t like Mondays.”

This past Monday saw another shooting, a massacre really, that left 33, including the gunman, dead, and nearly as many wounded, to say nothing of the shattered families and the emotional wounds that may never heal.

And because we live in an interconnected, global community that relies on mass, instantaneous communication, the aftershocks of this tragedy have rocked the nation, if not the world.

Editorials in The New York Times and The Washington Post have been calling for more gun control, less gun control, inquiries into mental health in the academic system and better warning systems.

The shooting has been the topic of conversation all across campus as well. We’re perversely fascinated by the macabre. Who the shooter was, and why he did it, his mental health, the warning signs that may have been missed, what could have or should have been done differently, the heroism of some of the victims, and a million different things have all been debated and overanalyzed.

And at the heart of it is one fear, lurking around the corners of our mind, just far enough beyond perception to be completely terrifying. It could happen anywhere. It could happen here.

We have this illusion that we’re safe, that nothing can happen to us. College is supposed to be a safe environment, a place where you can try new things, discover the person you’re meant to be, without worrying too much about repercussion or recrimination from the world at large because you’re surrounded by your peers who are doing exactly the same thing. It’s more than accepted; it’s expected.

An event like the one that occurred Monday at Virginia Tech makes us question that safety. What’s so different about Colgate that distinguishes it from Virginia Tech? And the people who perpetrated these heinous actions, are they so fundamentally different from ourselves? This really could happen anywhere.

Despite this, we can’t give in to the primal, clawing sensation deep in our guts. We can’t live in fear of what might happen tomorrow; the best we can do is live today in such a way that tomorrow we have no regrets, not only if we die, but also if we live.

To be sympathetic isn’t enough. People were sympathetic after Columbine, and the same thing happened again and again. Something has to change.

More or less gun control, improved mental health and warning systems, all these things have their place, but we may be forgetting the underlying cause: us.

In a community of strangers, it’s easy to ignore another’s pain or troubles, easy for a person to get lost, easy to say that it’s not my problem, I don’t have to deal with it. Until you do.

For all that we live in the most interconnected world to date, we are shockingly detached from our fellow man. Most of the time, we live in our own, isolated little worlds, until something shocking and horrific reminds us of our humanity, and we find solace in coming together. Maybe if we take a little more interest in the people around us, this time there won’t be a next time.