The Victim Was Us

Posted by: on Dec 18, 2013 | No Comments

On Monday, I wrote about the recent tragic death of Dustin Friedland:

Beyond the normal emotions that I felt while reading and hearing about this tragedy, this one struck particularly close to home as the shooting occurred at The Mall at Short Hills, which is 5 minutes from my house;  and the victim was an SU alum (as am I, my wife, my daughter and soon to be my son) having graduated from the SU College of Law in 2009 and his wife SU Law ’11.

As you can tell by the title of the previous post, I didn’t know the victim. At least I didn’t know him personally but plenty of folks who read that post were quick to point out that I did in fact “know” the victim. The victim is us.

Dustin is us because his death touched our lives. Dustin is us because that could have been one of us. Dustin is us because the way he lived is the way we live. Dustin is us because he died fighting for the one he loved. But what I have found out over the past few days is that Dustin is us because his life touched my life and so many lives of people that touch my life.

Some folks call it 6 degrees of separation but I strongly believe it’s really only 2. Last January I wrote a blog post for the SU Alumni President’s blog entitled 2 Degrees of Otto:
I don’t want anyone to think I’m making light of this tragedy but to honor his life and to best exemplify how Dustin touched our lives, here are a few examples of 2 Degrees of Dustin:

  • A friend of mine and my former SU neighbor let me know that Dustin’s brother was one of her daughter’s teachers at her high school.
  • My god daughter (SU ‘ 12, mom is SU ’82) lives in NYC. Her roommate works with Dustin’s wife.
  • My daughter Allie lives in LA and works with a woman who is also SU Law ’11. This co-worker helped Dustin’s wife pick out her wedding dress.
  • I’m sure there are many more but I think you can see where I’m going with this.

So Dustin, I didn’t know you personally but your life and your wife’s life have touched so many people in so many different ways. I will miss not having the chance to meet you, not getting to play 2 degrees of separation so we can see how our lives paths have crossed and I will miss not knowing who you were before you were the victim. May you rest in peace and may your memory be a blessing to your wife, your family, to your friends and to all whose lives your life touched.