Archive through May 05, 1999
i lived in the mountains of golden, co, and all i can remember of the time, hitchhiking up and down the mountain everyday to work, is the good people of that area getting me down the mountain to work everyday, and getting me up the mountain home from work every day. i hitched a ride to denver everyday and then back to golden. my memories of the time in the mountains will not be overwhelmed by the sad things that have happened there. trenchcoat mafia or no trenchcoat mafia, all i will ever remember about you fine folks out there is all the good people i ran across going up and down the mountain every day. i know you mountain folks are strong and will come out of the tragedy stronger than ever. my prayers are with you.
I teach high school English at a suburban high school in Georgia. I am not as shocked as some might be by the actions of the two youths in Littleton, for I see the anger and hurt on a daily basis. Our young people, for many reasons, are hurt and angry by the betrayals they feel from the adults around them. As the Haida Indians one said, "We do not inherit this land from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children." They will have to live with our mistakes, for the sins of the fathers will be visited upon the sons. All around them, adolescents see extreme violence, promiscuity, and materialism. They see instant gratification, often with no repercussions. They are taught to want material things, and equate those items with success, but are not exhorted to practice the work ethic that would gain them such rewards ethically. Physical beauty, money, athletic prowess, and social power are valued in our society, rather than intelligence, altruism, self-discipline and integrity. Human life is constantly destroyed and degraded in the fantasy world of the media, in which a character is not really dead, and can be brought back for the sequel. Guns are equated with power when knowledge should be equated with power. My ninth grade students complain that they would do better in class if they were "paid" for being there. My contention that they are "paid" with a valuable education that no one can take away, and that will open up opportunities for them, falls on deaf ears. They are largely disenfranchised and disillusioned by the shallow nature and false promises of our society, by the neon virtual reality of the media mirage of glamour and success. Is it any wonder that some of them could become alienated enough from society to lose all regard for its members? Do not misconstrue this statement, for I in no way mean to imply that the actions of any murderer can be justified by claiming that he/she is a victim of societal deception and abuse. And yes, like most of you, I was insulted and verbally abused at times in school, even bullied for my good grades and awkward social manners, but I didn't kill anybody. Most people can cope, and there is something psychologically and morally aberrant with someone who takes another's life in retribution, or for any other reason if the crime is calculated and random. I don't pretend to understand it or to have any answers.
I agree with much of what Jim Drush wrote in his essay. As a parent of two, I strive to be attentive and nurturing with affection and time rather than money and "pacifiers." I feel that rewarding everything with money is external validation. It is far better to feel a sense of satisfaction internally. TV and video games are artificial babysitters and "pacifiers" that bring on a passive, soporific state in children and teens. Our kids are growing up culturally illiterate, for all the information at their disposal, with no sense of the world around them. TV, video games and movies are brain candy. Read BRAVE NEW WORLD and you will see many frightening connections between futuristic London and 1999 America. We have our own soma.
J. Edgar Hoover said that "We can prevent more crime in the high chair than in the electric chair." So true. I hurt for all my students who have terrible home lives, filled with poverty, drugs, abuse, crime, and neglect, but I do not believe these circumstances can be used as an excuse, for there are many kids from unfortunate backgrounds who are productive and law-abiding.
These boys in Colorado were very self-absorbed, according to several psychological profiles I have read. I think they must have gotten this from their parents, for how could they have been so unaware of what was going on in their own homes?
I feel sorry for Klebold and Harris, not because I think they were victims, but because they wasted their few years on this planet on hatred and violence. They must not have felt loved or worthy. They could not take simple pleasure in the natural and manmade beauty around them and chose to hole themselves up in their diabolical bomb-making "laboratories," hunching over their computer keyboards, typing propaganda and hatching plots of terrorism. That is sad enough, but to think they were "successful" in robbing thirteen people of their fullest Earthly lives is unspeakable. Hell has gained two more demons.
For my part, I will go on teaching, trying very hard not to think about all of this too much, or I won't be able to go on. Being at school for the past week has been trying. Rumors have been spreading that our school and/or another local high school will be bombed on Friday, which is supposedly the day of Hitler's death (I have not verified this date). Blame for the threats seems to fall on a student who drives a hearse to school. I just try to keep going and not pay too much attention to all the rumors. But I think that is what the people at Columbine did, too. Who knows what to do or where it will all stop? We have had five bomb threats at our school in the three years I have been there. It's like the old story about the little boy who falsely cried "Wolf!" One day there was a wolf and no one believed him. Well, the wolf came around last week. Will it return?
I don't think that schools are safe at all.. My 5 year old niece is in pre-k and hates going to school since these shootings began it isn't like she is going to get shot, but she thinks someone at her school might do the same thing when she is there..I have to actully drag her to school because of everytime she turns on the t.v. that is what she hears (the shooting happened again)it is no ones fault but the media, they think that they are covering a "story" but instead they are making it into something it is not...Yes it was a very terrible thing, but nobody is going to be able to deal with it if the media doesn't chill out a little bit, small kids do not need to see that I am sorry to tell you that but they don't...