The other side of the monster

Cho Seung Hui - Columna Raúl Benoit
Fotografía El País.

I’ve asked myself over and over how a young man could have poisoned himself to such an extent and committed such an appalling crime at his university, and who is responsible for this tragic ending.

            The actions of the 23-year-old South Korean man, Cho Seung Hui, who murdered 33 people, is only a reflection of what is happening in educational institutions in the United States and other developed countries, where deep social, racial, religious, political and even psychological differences come together.

How could they not pay attention to the messages, not the least bit hidden, that this student was sending to professors and classmates?

Some will say that Cho Seung Hui was only looking for a pretext to unleash his rage, or that he was deliberating the crimes he would commit in his mind and his reaction was unpredictable.

However, we must look at the surroundings, the environment where he carried out the massacre, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, which permanently houses around 25,000 people, and where certain elitist social groups create a peculiar wall of segregation, converting it in a “favorable” place for someone who feels resented, a murderer, to execute a plan like that of Cho Seung Hui. It’s a citadel, where because the inhabitants are university students, there is more trust and perhaps much indifference.

The first big failure is overpopulation, which decreases the capacity and quality of medical, psychological and security services.

The second failure is the most regretful and offensive: social indolence.

Putting aside the potential origin of a psychiatric disorder, we must begin to analyze what triggered the illness, because Cho Seung Hui must have been very imbalanced indeed to plan and execute the bloody act, but there were one or several fuses which provoked him to explode. The fearful message he prepared indicates so.

One does not have to be a psychologist to diagnose that the suffering originated in a genetic problem or a problem of family history, but the act itself has characteristics of its own: resentment, rage and implicit desires to seek justice for the humiliation he had suffered, defending his dignity. Humiliated by whom? By American consumer society? Embarrassed by his classmates, or simply by the intolerant world?

Few dare to speak about the rancor that gave rise to a sick mind. According to statements, Cho Seung Hui cried out desperately to his professors and classmates. Urgent cries for help that they didn’t listen to or didn’t understand, perhaps due to a lack of compassion and human charity or disinterest, a malaise evident in people today. That indifference meant that nobody saw the trigger or the potential danger of Cho Seung Hui when he walked through the streets of the citadel and the university halls, seeing his colleagues in luxury vehicles, wearing expensive clothes and fine watches, a situation that apparently angered him. 

But are these young people guilty of living a life driven by commodities? In all certainty, no. But they are responsible for behaving arrogantly, full of conceit, braggadocio and vanity. Of not looking beyond their own noses and ignoring guys like Cho Seung Hui, who maybe aren’t able to commit the insane act of killing in order to gain revenge for their humiliation, but live feeling resented, defeated and offended, without society even thinking twice about them.

By no measure of justice, divine or human, should the 33 professors and young people that the South Korean killed have had to pay for this supposed inappropriate behavior with their lives. But now, survivors will have to put their hands on their heart and look on the individual next to them with compassion. Maybe they’re too late in doing so while they recover from the horrible damage the young man did to their lives.

 It’s a lesson they’ll have to review again and again, in order for it not to repeat itself.  

Raúl Benoit
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Raúl Benoit

Periodista y escritor colombiano de origen francés. Se ha destacado en televisión latinoamericana, como escritor de libros y columnista de periódicos del mundo.

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