Tragedies have always found themselves in the limelight, becoming fulcra of unity around which communities gather. As students of UCSB, more and more it seems like this year has been a year for us to pause and reflect on our own community. With the riot from Deltopia and now the death of seven students, including the shooter, we are gradually becoming unfortunately familiar with regret and mourning. This latest shooting in particular has caught me off guard in terms of how much of a burden it is upon my heart. To think that one of the victims was on the phone with his father not even an hour before he was shot is heart-wrenching. It’s in times like these that people of all beliefs, all cultures, and all upbringings ask, “Why?” and though they scan the skies desperately, the meaninglessness of the brutality is only magnified.
Tonight, I mourn the condition of a community I have grown to love. Coming in as a freshmen, hearing about the reputation as a party school, I was terrified. And yet, I found the most open, friendly, welcoming students on campus. There was trust in those days – trust that we would respect each other, trust that we would take care of one another, and trust that we would all leave UCSB, grateful for the memories and the preparation it provided for the “real world.” And now, I cannot help but feel as if that trust has been broken by a single individual. When we question how we as the future generation can make a difference, how we as students can contribute to society, how we as a community can improve the condition of the world around us, we never expected, and never realized, the power to change borne by a single individual. And yet, if this is the effect one man can have, what’s stopping us all from using our own God-given abilities to do the opposite, and perpetuate a more hopeful tomorrow? Not as individuals will we overcome, but as a unified coalition; solitude only bears forth calamity, but to stand in one accord arms us with the strength to rise above what has happened and look onwards to what is to come. In this time of healing, we must learn again what it is to trust. We dare not live for the betterment of our own lives any longer, but that we might enrich the stories of those around us until we all come to the full measure of our portions in this life.
The dead can speak no more on the preciousness of their own lives, having had their lives robbed from them without opportunity to resist; we the living bear the silence of these victims as guilt, as sorrow, as regret, as pain, as loss, and as sacrifice. However, this silence is not merely an event for us to look back upon when we leave these grounds – that would be an insult to their memories. The silence these victims leaves behind will be a lasting call to grow as a campus and even beyond the boundaries of Henley Gate when we leave, bearing a message that speaks to the effect of: “Don’t take what you have for granted. Your education, your passion, and your characters will all mold this world in ways that we never had the privilege of experiencing. Don’t consume yourselves with just focusing on improving UCSB, but expand your visions to encompass the world around you. Do big things for us, the ones who were stripped of the joy of seeing how we could affect the world positively.”
The situation was born from an imperfect heart in an imperfect world, shattering the hearts of thousands within the community. And now, we as a community ought not have a more pressing goal than to greet one another with our shards of hearts, exchanging them with one another as we knit ourselves tightly around the memories of the lost. We all offer our prayers and condolences to the families of the deceased, praying in earnest that we might finally wake up and realize that we are together, that we are united, that we are one. In unity, we stand vigil over the memories of the victims. IV, my thoughts, prayers, and my heart go with you; I can only ask that you treasure them as your own, and that these shattered hearts heal not as many, but as one.