My friend beside me had brought up the school shooting in
Littleton. That morning, I had woken up to the end of a radio
news broadcast which stated that the station would have details
throughout the day about the murders. I rolled out of bed slightly
confused, went downstairs, and sat down to hear the TV broadcaster
announce a total of fifteen dead.
I had kept the radio on, and was putting my books in my book
bag when I heard for the first time that two male students had
gone into the school. I dropped my math text on the floor, staring
at the radio, hoping it would tell me that the story wasn't real.
I remember thinking, "I have twenty minutes until I go to
I think everyone knows the exact moment when they first heard
the tragic news. It's one of those rare events which makes your
body stop functioning out of pure disbelief. It's almost as if
you're waiting to hear that this was all a joke - an overly cruel
joke, but I think everyone would feel better nonetheless.
As I entered our school, all I could hear were mutterings
and bits of conversation about the news. I don't think any of
us really wanted to believe it. I know I looked around, and thought,
"It could happen here." I also know that's an awful
thing to say, and for the record, I really don't think anyone
at our school would do it... at least, I pray that no one would.
I walked in a sort of trance the entire morning, wishing I was
in Littleton, to be with the people. Frankly, I still do. Somehow
I got through the morning - somewhat normally - and decided to
go out to lunch. It was there that I learned some details.
My friend who had brought up the subject was the one to "fill
me in." Thirteen students, a teacher, and the two murderers
are all dead. The two boys had gone in with guns, bombs, and
the intention to kill. She told me that she had heard they were
especially targeting athletes and people of other races. She
also told me that the day was rumoured to have something to do
with Adolf Hitler's birthday. We talked about it for a few minutes,
then she asked, "Do you think it could happen here?"
I answered, "Yes." They looked at me in shock - I think
they wanted to hear that it would never happen here, maybe as
a comfort. Needless to say, we dropped the subject.
I went through the day, my head spinning with questions like:
- "Why would someone do that?"
- "How could they do it?"
- "What drove them to kill?"
- "How can you miss something like that?"
- "How do you ignore, insult, and isolate someone so much
that they would want to kill themselves and others?"
I watched tv the whole night, and most of my questions were
answered. The killers were part of "The Trenchcoat Mafia";
they had been insulted or ignored by the other students; teachers
had noticed that they were quiet, always sat at the back of the
classroom; etc.etc. I'm sure you all know the details. Yet, no
one can seem to answer my last question. How do we make others
feel that low? One student who was a guest on Oprah said that
everyone in the school knew who the members of the "Mafia"
were, but the other students never really talked to them. It
wasn't that the students were afraid of them; they just didn't
associate with the group. We all have others who we don't particularly
like -but where do we let that get to the point when it's a common
idea to exclude a certain group?
I've also recently heard that the parents are being blamed
because they didn't notice that their sons were making pipe bombs
in their own houses. I'll admit, that's a pretty hard thing to
miss, but why are the parents being blamed? It's not as though
they gave their sons the "okay", or helped them. But
regardless of that idea, I have another question: Shouldn't someone
have noticed something was terribly wrong with these boys BEFORE
they made the bombs? Or got the guns? Or drew the prints? Or
kept the diaries? It's not as though they woke up that horrific
day and decided to end lives. This took months of planning -
that's a lot of time to ignore someone.
As I was flipping through the channels that night, I heard
a man say that this is just an example of their generation. I
wish I had caught his name. I would love to write him a letter
saying, "Guess what? We're not all murderers."
Over the past week, I have probably watched over 24 hours
of shows concerning the massacre. And I'm still shocked. Yesterday
I heard that they had planned to blow up the entire school, killing
everyone. Also, they had wanted to get on a plane to New York,
and crash it, killing the passengers, as well as N.Y.C. civilians.
Actually, I have heard a huge amount, and honestly I really don't
know what is true. This is why I'm writing an editorial instead
of a news story. I really don't have the right to fill you all
in on the details. But, I do feel that the subject is serious
enough to be discussed and dealt with. Quite frankly, I don't
think we've done enough to acknowledge it.
By Monday after the shootings, I didn't hear the whispers
anymore. My question is "Why?" I know it's a hard subject
to deal with. I know that we don't want to think about it. But
we should - no, we have to. Otherwise, it will repeat itself.
In fact, it already has. This is an epidemic and it has moved
on to our "home land". There was another shooting,
this time in Alberta. We all joke that Americans play with guns,
but now we do too. Is that how we want this country to be? Ignore
each other until someone loses it, kills himself and others;
talk about it for a few days; then leave it alone because it's
a tough subject? Maybe everyone has learned a lesson, right?
We simply can't keep doing this. We have to talk, and deal,
and hopefully solve this insanity. It starts with each of us.
All of these gruelling situations have started with a lack of
human communication, and that's where we all can start. I'm not
saying this is going to solve the world, but at least we can
stop it from happening here. We CAN stop it from happening here.
I don't know about all of you, but I'm scared, and I don't
want to live in fear of this. We don't have to. It just takes
some sensitivity, and a willingness to help. Right now, if there
is any one of you who I have EVER hurt, if I have caused anyone
the slightest bit of pain, I'm sorry. It all starts with the
pain. And it ends with...
Anyone reading this who would like to discuss this issue,
and maybe even DO something about it, please get in touch with
me. We can change this.