In the turn of events that happened the past weekend in Santa Barbara, I found out that one of my high school classmates had been a victim in the tragedy.
The news sent chills down my spine, and completely changed the perception I had toward the whole incident.
Although I was never particularly close to James, I remember his warm smile always communicating how he was feeling inside even when his knowledge of the English language was unable to. He had a way of being always willing to lend a helping hand, even though most of the time I would simply walk by him on campus.
It’s a tragedy that events like this happen. It’s a tragedy that people who are outside our paradigms of social norms are unaccepted in ways that would drive them to do things like this. It’s a tragedy that in the hyperconnected world that we live in, people would have such difficulty connecting and making supportive friends.
Within each person is the power to do tremendous good or tremendous harm. The difference lies in the context in which people are supported and taught. For people who don’t feel supported and grounded, many don’t know how to express their frustrations and problems in a healthy way.
People are social creatures, and no matter how independent you claim to be, everyone needs to be accepted and to accept others. Connection is ultimately one of the biggest vehicles for social change, but in a day and age with social media and the internet, it can be confusing to retain the core of human connection by letting online interactions be a supplement rather than a substitute.
Don’t ever overlook the need someone has for connection. You never know the impact a quick smile or “how was your day?” is going to make.