It is the 18th month since the shooting at Virginia Tech. When I first heard of the incident, I made a conscious effort to look at peers who experienced similar episodes during high school. It is because of this effort I feel called to re-address the reasons why the shooting occurred, without the bias of professionals and public relations officials.

Most sources seem to cite entitlement. I disagree, and would call it a lack of love, or misplaced love. He did not look for love in the right places, or for the right reasons. The shooter was in high school at about the same time I was. While he focused on “what” happened to him, I focused on “why” these things happened.

At the time, I called the major phenomenon which I saw “The Competition of Pain.” If the next person’s difficulty was worse than yours; you did not have a right to complain, and possibly should be punished with worse by that person. As I learned, this would become pronounced with the degree of status earned in life.

For the shooter, the unrevealed pain was built up with pride, which is improper love for the self. This grew into investments in oppression, religion, seduction, fear, illusion, judgment, and finally, wrath. He felt he had to be in charge and tried to change everybody else, avoiding the parts of people he didn’t want to deal with, or eliminating entire persons.

Now, where are we today?

I attended the “Brothers y Hermanas” seminar, and found a wealth of information on love, including friendship. It would appear that the ties that bind us are more important than the ties that bind us more. A real-world education is a real factor in any relationship, and takes a long time. Even people with advanced degrees, good salary, and good business partnerships have been unable to figure out “relationships.” Love is patient. It also endures all things and hopes all things that last, even when they seem impossible.

As the seminar moderator stated, in slightly different words: Love may come to you when you least expect it. There is nothing to be expected in life but struggle as you become educated and grow. The best way to find helpful people is to stop avoiding trouble, face it with mutual support, and encourage positive solutions. The “good people” might just be the people or facets of people you’ve tried to avoid all along.