The second most popular question following the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings besides the heated debate on gun control, is how people should reach out to loners.
Thursday The New York Times ran an article titled, “Online, students say ‘reach out to loners,'” which discussed the phenomenon on Facebook where students create groups to reach out to loners, such as “After What Happened on 04/16/07, I’m Gonna Talk & Reach Out To Every Loner.”
While the group is global, it only listed 55 members Monday – and most who were posting so-called advice merely made jokes about loners instead of seriously discussing the topic.
A loner is typically a person who likes to be alone and especially avoids the company of others. While people debate how they can stop other ‘loners’ from killing in shooting sprees, there is a larger debate to be had.
Why should we single out loners as the people to reach out to?
If people are just now realizing after the tragic deaths of 33 people that someone should have talked to Cho Seung-Hui, then the problem is not with the loners but with the society.
Now is not the time to reach out to loners – it’s always been the time.
As students, faculty and staff at a Christian university, it is our responsibility, not only as Christians but as humans, to show a sense of decency and appreciation for everyone God created.
But don’t just try to befriend the people on the fringe – befriend any and everyone. This response should not be something borne out of the Virginia Tech tragedy on April 16, but something we do because it’s the right thing to do.
Saying hi to someone you pass on your way to class, making eye contact with people you don’t know or genuinely asking someone how their day is going probably aren’t groundbreaking actions that will save the world or campus from a gunman on a mission to hurt himself and others.
But if our point was to stop people from killing others, it would be a futile point.
Stop someone today and say hello, not because you’re afraid they’ll one day gun you down – but simply because you care.
People across campus are lonely or depressed, while others are happy and blessed. This doesn’t mean they don’t have friends, and it doesn’t mean they couldn’t use another one either.
Take the time to say hello or offer a smile. What’s the harm, aren’t smiles free?