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Monday, April 23, 2007

Stem any anti-Asian backlash

As Americans, we all are still reeling from the horrific tragedy at Virginia Tech. Our prayers and hearts go out to the victims, their families, friends and community.

The Asian community, along with the rest of the world, mourns this devastating loss of innocent lives — the result of the senseless act of one mentally unbalanced person. Seung-Hui Cho does not represent any group. That he was Asian does not mean anything. Violence is colorblind.

Upon learning that the shooter was Asian, my first reaction, like that of many other Asians: apprehension. Our history shows that whenever tragedy occurs, the identification of the perpetrator may trigger prejudicial or retaliation against anyone who looks like him. At Virginia Tech, some Korean students went home because they feared being the target of a backlash. Thank God, this did not happen.

We should not be led by prejudice and fear. For the healing to begin, we need to focus on the victims — the dead, the injured and their families, including the gunman's family.

This massacre makes us stop and ask the larger questions: Why? Did any person or system fail to act in a way that could have prevented this violence? What about mental illness, gun control, safety in our schools, etc.?

These questions, this discussion unfortunately seems to be never ending. Haven't we learned from the past? We are all members of the same family, the human race. No one wants these tragedies repeated, but they are. I ask each one of you to ask yourself this question: "Will I do all I can to prevent such a tragedy from happening again?"

Preventing such tragedies starts with just a simple act of compassion and kindness — of loving and caring for our neighbors. It starts with you and me making a difference to those around us. Because "There, but by the grace of God, am I." [Link]

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