Thoughts on Columbine

by Steven J. Owens (unless otherwise attributed)

The world is probably not as simple as we'd like to think. Or maybe it is simple, but that simplicity doesn't get us the results we'd like; simple doesn't mean easy. The simple questions are usually the ones with the most complex answers, just like the simple words (God, love, hate) are usually the hardest topics for people to come to grips with.

One of my friends, an intelligent and educated man, told me the Columbine shootings were targeted at christian kids. Where did he get the idea that Columbine had anything to do with religion, or in fact anything to do with anything other than the outward turning of inward-directed anxiety, depression, self-loathing, and ultimately rage?

One of the boys who died at Columbine was black. "My son died because he was black", the father said.

Another was Christian, "My daughter died because she was Christian", the mother said.

Yes, and the other students died because they were white, yellow, rich, poor, popular, intellectual - one of the rooms where much of the shooting took place was the school library, yet how much have you heard people saying "my child died because she was intellectual"?

But mostly they died because they were there, because they were standing in front of a boy with a gun, because they happened to be in the wrong place and the wrong time, when a society-induced rage exploded.

Yeah, sure, society is to blame. Society is always to blame; that's like saying the wind, clouds and rain are to blame for the weather. As much as we desire it, as strong as the human need is for cathartic finger-pointing, it doesn't help the situation, and it doesn't solve any of the problems. It may make you feel better, but so does cocaine, for a while.

The children who pulled the triggers in Columbine had things seriously wrong with them. They lived as outcasts, they felt alienated and rejected by their peers, they felt neglected and ignored by the adults whose job it was to protect and nurture them. Nobody set out to create them as monsters, there are no evil masterminds behind this story. Just the evil of apathy, the malice of stupidity, and this in a school and a community noted for its strong espousal of "christian" values. They were lied to, and then the lie was brutally exposed.

Is it any surprise they felt no connection, no empathy to prevent them from venting their rage on the same people and system that created the situation?

Now, in the wake of the events in Columbine, countless more children, already socially rejected and marginalized by an institutional system that tolerates and even tacitly approves such marginalization, are being forced further out of the mainstream by "preventive measures" such as profiling, compulsory psychological analysis, elimination of their freedom of expression, and outright expulsion. Remember, these are the kids who were excluded and ignored up until now. The only reason they're getting attention is because people recognize that, like any other human being, they're capable of doing harm.

Frankly, for the most part they're the kids with most ability to do harm, and the most likely not to pick up the gun or knife. Most of them are the smart kids, the lonely kids who lack a common ground with their peers. They are the kids who will grow up to be the adults who keep this country going, the scientists, engineers and doctors, (and even some artists), who will invent the new technologies and bring them to reality, who will spend most of their life looking for ways to improve life for everybody. Who question the way things are and look to the way things might be, could be, if we cared enough to put our money where our lip-service is.

More than anything, they want acceptance, yes, but acceptance of who they are, not acceptance of some parody of themselves that fits the needs and delusions of a mainstream that demonstrably is not succeeding in practicing what they preach.

See original (unformatted) article


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