How did we reach this point of pain?

When faced with news updates like Feb. 14’s Northern Illinois University shooting, I can’t help but wonder: What are we doing to ourselves?

We are all human beings. We have the same makeup on the inside, with lungs to keep us functioning and a beating heart to give us life. We laugh and cry in the same way. We run and hide, we pray and are silent. We have the same life force running through our veins. No matter how many differences we may find, at the core of it all, we are people.

So what are we doing to ourselves? Why do horrible events such as these happen? How did we get here?

As people, the one truth that I have learned about our kind is that we need each other. If you’ve seen the film Into the Wild, or heard the story of Christopher McCandless, you’ve seen an example of someone who attempted to live a life without relationships and interactions with other human beings. He reached the conclusion – only too late – that having loving relationships with other people is a basic necessity – to human life. It’s what makes life worth living. I believe it’s what we are made for: to love each other. Loyalty, selflessness, memory are qualities that accompany such relationships that we have and that make this ability unique among other earth creatures.

So how is it that we end up isolated, feeling abandoned or hurting others to the point that someone reaches such desperation? How is it that someone can be so lost, so confused, so deeply broken that they lose touch with the value of human life and relationships and feel this inhuman desire to kill others?

It breaks my heart when I hear such news, imagining the loneliness, the desperation that leads to such irrationality. It breaks my heart that as people, we can reach such a point.

It’s difficult and disheartening to see such terrible cruelty happen, but I also believe it can be in our power to change it, to help avoid this cycle of deadly pain and incredible violence. We have such an amazing ability to love, to care, to help. We see it alive and active every day, especially on this campus where students are constantly finding new ways to give to someone else, to make life better and to improve upon our previous mistakes. If we all make the commitment to care just a little bit more, I think so much can change.

In the wake of the terrible events at NIU, I would like to let the community of NIU know that we are with them, grieving and suffering these inconceivable events. I hope that at the sight of such atrocities we can begin slowly to recover, to heal and to remember our basic human abilities to feel, to care, to love.

Bernardita “Beni” Yunis is a senior majoring in communication studies, international studies and religious studies. She hopes you’ll send her some sweet nothings at