Reflections on Binghamton

was pain driving you
to forget that others hurt
you weren’t alone
struggle, frustration, sadness
all your victims lived it, too


The news out of Binghamton saddens and horrifies me. I am also thinking about how it might affect my students, people who come to learn English and prepare for their citizenship exams.  And I think about how it might be affecting my instructors.

I don’t know how people are respondng, what the impact of this terrible event is in my students’ lives.  We always worry about retraumatization with our immigrant participants — many have come to the US escaping war and political violence in their home countries, surving damaging and violent immigration experiences — and an event like this one can definitely be a trigger.

And then my boss reminded me that we are in the process of moving two classes out of some of our rented space … and of how angry and upset the students and their teacher are about having to give up their classroom space.

And then in today’s staff meeting, teachers asked what I could do to improve security in our buildings.  More like what can I do to create security in our buildings: we have no security guard, even for our night classes; we have no ‘escape route’ as one teacher put it.  Our sites are very open and trusting.  And we’ve never had to worry about that before.  And I don’t know what I can do about the fact that many people are feeling worried about it now.

I read an article today written by someone angry that the press always focuses on the killer: who was he, why would he do such a thing …  The writer wanted to know why we don’t focus on the victims, tell their stories.  And I get that, appreciate his interest in seeing the focus shift.  But here I am with a tanka about Jiverly Wong.  But it would feel more intrusive to write about one of his victims, to write from the point of view of the husband I heard interviewed on Saturday, hoping that somehow his wife would make it home.

We focus on the killers because focusing on the victims hurts.  We focus on the killers because we want to understand, need to see a reason behind what they’ve done, need to see that such violence isn’t random, that it couldn’t happen to us.  It’s a false comfort we need to create for ourselves.


4 thoughts on “Reflections on Binghamton

  1. Dear girlgriot,
    Your sadness and concern is most evident and even from this distance I am touched by the tragic loss of life from such a senseless, yet all too common act. I have been to Binghamton and one never contemplates sometihng like this happening in such places -but it does and we focus on the victims in some forlorn way of hoping to understand the why -it never makes sense. The pain associated with thinking of the victims is raw.

    Guns in American society remain an engima to many of us living outside. However, security in schools has become a growing concern everywhere and many of the things we previously took for granted now need to be considered. Our innocence and trust have been progrssively eroded. As a former principal it was always at the back of my mind.

    Thank you for your continued support and feedback.
    Take care over there


    1. Thanks, Alan. Yes, Americans and guns are an ongoing puzzle for me, too, and I’m right here. I think about the differences between statistics on US gun crimes/killings and Canada. We’re different countries, of course, but the statistics make us seem like we exist on different planets!


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