On Tuesday, over 145 children and teachers were murdered at their school in Peshawar, Pakistan: a supposedly safe place and a temple of learning.
The Taliban attacked the school, armed as paramilitary officers, and reportedly shot many of the students in the head.
They claimed revenge for the Pakistani military's recent attacks against their own people in North Waziristan.
True, the war on and with the Taliban has existed for decades and is a complex web of political alliances and geopolitical divides that involves local and national actors throughout Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, among others.
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However, there is a chillingly simple and ironic cause of this attack: the failure of education.
Those who carried out these horrors were failed by their teachers and by their education systems. They left childhood without the ability to see the reality of our world where civilians, especially children, are off-limits during war.
They failed or perhaps never received the lessons on empathy, on collaboration, on negotiation.
Their negligence in learning these qualities is not a result of their religion, their family background, nor of their ability to be educated, but rather a result of their limited access to an education that teaches these qualities.
A world can exist where all children leave school with the ability to care for and be beneficial to others.
However, the burden of this vision should not be the responsibility of students like Malala Yousafzai (the Pakistani activist shot in the head on her way to school) or those attacked on Tuesday.
The push for education, and consequently, peace, must come from the system itself. In the short term, this means ensuring that all students in Pakistan have a school, a safe place with books and teachers.
However, in the long run, Pakistan needs to take responsibility for its failing education system and leverage education as a way to prevent future attacks and remember those already shamefully forgotten.
Education is certainly not the answer to all of the world's questions. Many crimes have been committed by the world's most educated, yet a quality education that cultivates empathy and compassion, is one answer. And with a never-ending thread of political misguidance and messy allegiances, what is the better option?
The fact that this attack took place in a school is uncomfortably ironic. Though it won't relieve the suffering of the families of those lost, education is one way to prevent travesties such as this.