In the end only kindness matters

  • May 1, 2007
TORONTO - It is halfway through second period and I’m lying on my classroom floor, away from all of the windows and doors, alongside other classmates. The room is silent. Luckily, this is just a practice lockdown drill that schools must go through in case of an emergency.
But, as I am lying in the dark on that cold classroom floor, even with the knowledge that it is only a drill, I cannot help but wonder how scary it would be if it wasn’t.

All of this is done to prepare for a situation similar to the one at Virginia Tech, where student  Cho Seung-hui gunned down 32 of his schoolmates and professors before turning his gun on himself. Although the drill may be a safety precaution and helpful to practise, what we should really be working on is preventing such mishaps before they even get as far as someone bringing a gun into a school.

The death of the 33 students and teachers at Virginia Tech on April 16 is certainly sad news. Like other school shootings, innocent young people had their bright futures taken away from them and their family and friends were greatly affected. What I find even more sad about situations such as these, however, is that they might have been prevented.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pointing a finger at staff or students from the school. All I am getting at is that we should be more friendly and open to people who seem to be isolated from others, as Cho was among his university schoolmates. It is understandable that reaching out to someone who appears to be unsociable isn’t always as easy as hello, and even more understandable that they might reject your attempts. But it hurts much more when you don’t bother than it does to just try to make a difference.

Next time you see that person, sitting alone in a cafeteria full of students, try to sit down beside them and talk to them, maybe even get to know them a little bit. If you show a person you genuinely care to hear what they have to say it is probable you’ll get a positive response in return.

Humans are generally social beings. As John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent....” We need to be connected to others in order to find a certain balance and reach a certain happiness in life. Most people enjoy feeling a certain connectedness to others and when someone is lacking that feeling, they may separate themselves from society.

You can make someone’s day using the simplest act of kindness. A wave or a “have a great day” can make much more of an impact than you’d expect. So why don’t we all try to reach out to those in need and discover how much of a difference we can make in our lives and in the lives of others.

(Sarah Grech, 16, is a Grade 11 student at Bishop Allan Academy in Toronto.)

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