Expectedly, polls have begun being conducted on the pros and cons of a stricter gun control policy. Experts are analyzing the statistics on people's opinion on whether enforcing gun control could or could not have prevented Cho do what he did. Message boards are flooded with vitriolic comments, sad comments, philosophical reflections, I-told-you-so's; the entire spectrum of dialectics that humans are capable of producing in such events (eventualities?) is on display.
The boy's video will enter the curriculum of psychology courses across the universities of the world. Psychoanalysts and their fraternity in academia will come out with lengthy discourses on why things happened with Seung-Hui the way they did.
The current, ongoing postmortem of his character profile (wonder why his character profile couldn't have been so comprehensively built up while he was alive and before he started the shooting?) shows that he:
- was a shy kid, acutely conscious of his alien background. Migrating from a rented basement apartment in the Dobong-gu district of Seoul, South Korea, to the vicinity of an affluent community in Virginia - can be a big cultural shock for an eight-year old child that Cho was, in 1992. Coping with this shock requires a mindset that is molded in oodles of self-esteem. Which Seung-hui apparently lacked. Busy parents. A successful elder sister who must have been held up as a benchmark worth emulating, must not have helped his own worth of self any better.
- used to be intimidated and picked on by peers as a high-school student. The peers found his accent and his personality very funny. An already low-self esteemed boy touched further depths in his own eyes. Anger and frustration towards his peers, and by extension, the world around him, must have kept growing in his mind.
As is the public wont, such incidents spark an ephemeral hue and cry about a low counselor:student ratio, the problem compounded further by the fact that the counselors apparently spend more time administering tests and filling up forms than actually doing what they were hired for: spending time with the kids - and 'counseling' them.
[Why didn't the Student Affairs cell take cognizance of the English Department Head's alert about the kid's behavior, as early as in 2005? Surely, a counselor could have been put on the job? Or did they naively expect the child to walk into the counselor's chamber on his own?]
- fantasized about the opposite sex. His being a loner and introvert didn't help things when his surging hormones drove him to seek the company of fellow female students. His inner conflicts: a low self-esteem and insecurity putting him on the leash on the one hand, and his urge to satisfy his natural, carnal demands on the other, led him to do what young boys in his circumstance do: stalk the girls. Ultimately, his first victim was a girl.
- successfully hid his inner anger and sense of revenge against the "injustice" that the world meted out to him, when he was psychologically evaluated. Surely, the tests that are routinely administered in such cases, at Carilion's Saint Albans Behavioral Health Center themselves need re-evaluation? That an apparent lack of emotional reactivity at the superficial level, may actually be concealing a simmering, seething volcano of perhaps self-destructive lava which may explode anytime? Which only a deeper probe can reveal?
Sigh. The kid withdrew into a shell and created his own hyperreal world where he was the sole inhabitant - and not having to bear anybody's insults or mockery, and where he could extract his own revenge against his alleged tormentors, just like Woo-jin did in the OldBoy movie.
In hindsight, Seung-hui seemed to have given enough signs of warning, to his seniors and teachers, at least of mental illness, if not of possible erupting violence against the others around him. Through his behavior, through his writings. If only one of them had proactively taken the initiative and got him started on a consistent counseling session to rebuild his self-esteem, and instill in him respect - and not hatred - for the world he cohabited.
All - because once a negative set of thought patterns are formed, one tends to repeatedly walk down the same road again and again. It takes but a simple shift of perspective, to move from negative to positive, from low self-esteem to high self-love - to change direction. A simple shift. Which Seung-hui didn't make.
As we grieve for the people who faced the bullets that were suddenly sprayed at them, not even given the chance to know why they deserved this fate; as we shed tears for the young who had their entire life spread out before them, life snuffed out before they could live it to their full potential; as we share the hopelessness and helplessness of Seung-hui's parents (Seung Tae and Hyang In) and sister (Sun Kyung), the nightmare and soul-searching that they must now be going through is palpable: let us also reflect on how our society developed the circumstance which shaped this kid's thoughts, and how we couldn't stretch out our helping hand to lift him - when it was still time - as he was sliding deeper into his morass of negativity and self-destruction.