At the end?

As this, my last undergraduate semester, draws to a close, I am finding it extremely difficult to remove the horrific images of Virginia Tech from my heart. So many people my age were robbed of their futures because of the psychotic actions of a selfish person. It is at times like these that I am thankful for my faith in God and the eternality of families.

A dagger also penetrated my heart last Wednesday when more than 183 Iraqi people were killed in one day of violence in Baghdad. I can’t even imagine what life must be like for the millions of men, women and children going through a Virginia Tech every single day in Iraq.

The world certainly has dealt humankind a few blows the past few weeks, but we cannot keep our heads down. Despite all the vitriol our society seems to have, we have so much to be grateful for and so much to continue to fight for.

Our world is a much better place in which to live than it was just 40 years ago. Many rights have been won by people who had been denied for centuries. Rights for women, minorities and future generations (the environment) have all been won by great social movements, which students have played a large roll in. Large, sustainable movements designed to combat aggression have been established just in the last five years in response to the Iraq War. We have much to be grateful for.

Consequently, the battle is far from over. We have allowed an administration to go unchecked during the last eight years, and it needs to answer for its mistakes. Recently, former Bush administration spokesman Scott McClellan stated that mistakes were “obviously” made in the planning of the war. I know that we need to forgive mistakes — but when you make “mistakes” with war, people die. A great public debate needs to be waged over the next 18 months about the role of American aggression in the world. The only group more powerful than the American government is the American people. I am confident that we will prevail.

I am grateful for the time I have spent at the U over the last four years. I will miss so many people whom I have worked with and professors I have learned from.

Luke Garrott taught me that “democracy” can mean so much more than simply voting in an election. Participation must extend to all facets of life before the deliberative democratic ideal can ever improve human life.

Claudio Holzner taught me the reality of democracy in developing countries and how often the poor are shut out of elections — both here and abroad.

Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Kirk Jowers gave me many opportunities to practice politics and learn about the process — while working on campaigns and in the Legislature. The U is extremely fortunate to have such a brilliant and compassionate person leading the Hinckley Institute.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank Dan Jones — mostly for being who he is. In all my life I have never met someone who feels so passionate about the promise of the American system of government. I feel so fortunate to have learned and grown from his caring heart and amazing mind. I pray that I can live up to his expectations.

The U is a wonderful place to learn and I am fortunate for the experiences I have had.