Q:ROBOTS OR DINOSAURS?
I am reminded of an event that very well may be one of the scariest moments in my life that took place some 20 years ago. A child, my age, some 12, 13 years old, comes to school with loaded hunting rifles and held up a classroom. Although, a shot was fired in the classroom, into the ceiling, no one was injured, and it ended almost as quickly as it began. I remember being ushered into the gymnasium, a lot of scared students holding each other, and tears, as well all began to make sense of what just happened that morning. And the shock settled in for many of friends, including myself, as we found out not only did this happen in the classroom just above mine, but to one of our teachers.
Stories started flying amongst the students, faculty and staff about the child being unstable. He was rumored to be rambling on about having to finish his homework before he could watch tv, or some other such nonsense. But no one ever really understood what had happened. Why did he bring these loaded rifles to school? How did he even manage to bring them without anyone noticing? Was there some kind of sign that should have signaled us that there was something wrong? How could any of us have missed it? He was someone we knew, and generally was well liked amongst his friends. To this day, his motivations still baffle me.
The years go on, without another incident happening within our little community.
Then Columbine occurs. Two students went on a killing spree within their high school, killing 13 and injuring more. Yet, unlike what had happened in my hometown in the early 1990s, there were clear and definite signs that these young men were in trouble. Some would rationalize that the behavior of the two gunmen were influenced by violent video games, movies and other media. Others would argue that there was years of a social climate of bullying, isolation and helplessness that led to the attack. Even a post-mortem diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and depressive disorders were introduced to “help” explain what had happened, even though all it did was raise more questions and blamed others for the incident.
In a press release concerning the Columbine Incident, musical artist Marilyn Manson states, “The [news] media has unfairly scapegoated the music industry and so-called Goth kids and has speculated, with no basis in truth, that artists like myself are in some way to blame. This tragedy was a product of ignorance, hatred and an access to guns. I hope the [news] media’s irresponsible finger-pointing doesn’t create more discrimination against kids who look different.” In Michael Moore’s film “Bowling for Columbine,” he was asked if he would talk to the students at the high school where the tragedy took place. He responded, “I wouldn’t say a single word. I would listen to what they have to say and that’s what no one did.”
On Wednesday, January 4, 2012, a 15 year old was shot and killed by police in my hometown, after bringing a weapon to school. In a comments I had posted to the local newspaper request for community thoughts, I stated that no one was asking why he had brought the weapon to school. What signs were there that would give him a reason to bring it? Was he being bullied? Was he trying to hurt someone? Like the incident twenty years ago, no one has been able to answer the question, although, police are still investigating the incident. Blame is being passed around like mints at a dinner party. Mostly, at the police officers who responded. How could the police shoot a 15 year old?
The reality is, even though it was just a CO2 pellet gun, the weapon he brought to school did in deed look like a Glock 9 mm automatic handgun. He held the weapon, reportedly, pointing it at the police, and, prior to their arrival, at least one other student. Since the event at Columbine, Police departments around the country have been trained to neutralize the suspect[s], by killing or wounding the suspect[s], to minimize the number of victims being killed or wounded. This tactic has proven very successful since the Columbine Incident, most notably the Virginia Tech Massacre. And by using this tactic, responding officers were able to protect the students, faculty and staff at this school.
My first and really most important question is, was there anyone there to listen to him? Most people, children, teenagers and adults, alike, do not just act without some form of motivation. Even if this was some form of gang related event, there is still a motivation behind this act. Why would he bring a weapon to school? Did he feel he needed to protect himself? Was he trying to hurt someone? Was he just trying to look cool and tough? Was their any indication in his behavior that might have signaled something was wrong? There are just too many unanswered questions.
The true root of this problem lies in the fact that, for whatever reason, we are not listening to these children. We either ignore the fact there is something wrong, or we are simply not listening. Like so many similar events that have occurred in the past, Columbine, Virginia Tech, University of Central Arkansas, there were signs that could have given us clues as to how to keep these events from happening. Many people have offered solutions to remedy these problems, from bringing back prayer into school and holding weekly assemblies over bullying and other such topics. But the reality is that none of these will truly work unless we take the time and interest in these young lives. If these children are stressed over something, school work, bullies, family life, whatever it may be, there are things we can do to help them overcome these stresses; help them come up with solutions, teach them how to deal with events to keep them from hurting themselves or others. They need to feel like someone is listening and truly want to help them overcome.
The true tragedy, in any event, is that a child so young needlessly lost his life. My heart goes out to the child and his family, those students and faculty at the school, and the police who responded. Maybe one day we will have the answers we so desperately need and are able to prevent a tragedy such as this from happening again.
I have seen too much in the media that confuses me, and I believe these political commentators are right about this Occupy Wall St movement. Its too confusing to know where all this is going. Although, I commend these protestors for exercising their 1st Amendment Rights to peaceably assemble in order redress grievances, just what exactly are these grievances?
I have seen a lot of photos of people posting hand written messages explaining how they are the 99%, and all make very valid points. Being foreclosed on because you owe the bank over $300,000 on a house that is worth less than $100,000? Yes, that needs to be addressed. Not being taken seriously in the job market after taking out over $100,000 in student loans for pay for an “excellent” education? Okay, you have a voice that needs to be heard. But is this seriously the corporate greed that you are protesting? I think this movement needs to take a step back and seriously think about what is going on.
Teachers all over this country are losing their jobs, or taking serious pay cuts, due to budget cuts. Meanwhile, huge corporations are planning spa weekends for their executives. Over two administrations, the government had no problem with bailing out the banks and other Wall St. businesses. At our, the taxpayer’s, expense, none-the-less, these same corporations spend that bail out money for executive retreats. They would hire a new CEO with a 6 figure sign on bonus, only to let him go less than a month later, giving him a 7 figure severance package. Yet, this same government refuses to come up with that same sentiment for our teachers. Our teachers, the very same ones that teach our children who will grow up to be the next CEO, senator or president. Can someone explain to me how that works?
What about our military? The government expects these young men and women to serve a minimum of four years, promising them a paid education, medical, and god only what else. Yet, when it comes time for them to make good on these promises? “Oh, well, we’ll put you on a waiting list, but there is no guarantee that it’ll be there when your name comes up.” Seriously? What about the injuries that these men and women incurred while serving? Is the government taking care of that? That would be a huge “no.”
I once worked with a young man who served during the second Gulf War, and sustained injuries during combat. He had to quit his job just so he can apply for Medicaid just to pay for the surgery to repair the hernia and broken vertebrae he sustained, since the government “couldn’t” pay for it. Seriously? How does this make sense? And his so called pension? What pension?
Meanwhile, if you are the child of a congressman or senator, your student loans are forgiven. Your education is practically free. If you have served one term as a congressman or senator, you get full pension with. That’s only 4 years, but for someone who has served for 20 years in the service, their pension gets reduced, and if they served less than that, you get nothing, even if they served during wartime. Might I ask, how exactly does that work?
Just recently, a small community north of San Antonio reduced it’s police force, leaving only 2 policemen, one of them, only a dispatcher, and the other, a deputy, citing fiscal reasoning. The Sheriff’s Department of Cameron County is battling for collective bargaining rights, just to ensure that they don’t get a dock in a pay because of budget cuts. The Fire Department of the city of Lake Charles released their contract with the city because they refused to allow the citizenry to vote whether or not they can have a pay raise. Keep in mind, they get paid less than the police force, and with the fire certification being lowered, meaning the fire hazards in the area are worse due to the chemical and oil industry found there, these men take bigger and bigger risks every time they go out to do their job. It’s not just the fire but the health conditions in some of these locations. LCFD Veterans have died from nonhereditary cancers they’ve contracted from exposure to dangerous chemicals, and they are doing this is a cut budget and reduced benefits? Please, someone explain to me how all of this works.
And with all this going on, corporate heads are threatening to fire every single employee they have working for them and allow their businesses to fail if they are forced to pay taxes. Seriously? I recall a line Tyler Durden says in the movie Fight Club. “Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not… fuck with us.” These are the people we depend on everyday: Our teachers, our soldiers, our EMS, firefighters, policemen. And while the CEOs at the big corporations get to line their pocket books with virtually tax free money, these very people we depend on are losing their jobs, their pensions, their benefits. For the love of god, exactly how does this work? Can someone please tell me? I would really like to understand this.
Our teachers, our soldiers, our public servants: These are the 99% we should be fighting for. Whereas my heart goes out to the nurse who lost her home because she owed more than its worth, and to the McDonald’s assistant manager with the masters degree in chemical engineering, I’m sorry. I truly am, but I have known too many people with Harvard degrees who have good paying jobs in the fields they have chosen to study. I have known too many people who have chosen to buy homes that fit within their budgets and chosen mortgages that wouldn’t adjust rates causing a lopsided debt to worth ratio.
“It gets dark sometimes, but morning comes. Keep Hope Alive.” Rev. Jesse Jackson
Project for Keep Hope Alive Week, a mental health awareness event hosted by the deviant art group #mental-illnessclub.
As someone who has dysthymia, I find it is important to advocate for others, like me. Sometimes it is hard to see hope. Even when someone else is there wanting to help guide you there.
Please visit my deviantart account for full credits.
Trying a new approach
So, I have been thinking maybe i have been going about this all the wrong way. Maybe I should be really utilizing the various tentacles known as the World Wide Web. Getting stuck on one or two sites causes sterility, and that’s no good for producing children, metaphorically speaking. So, at the advice of a good friend, one of my brothers, and a networking guru, I am branching out; even into the world of twitter, a land I once vowed never to set foot in. Let’s see where this takes me.