Like most people who graduated from the same high school I did, I am sensitive to school shootings. We all went to school with people like the dead and wounded students, we had parents like theirs, parents like the parents of the killers.
This latest shooter, a homecoming prince and athlete, a popular boy with a broken heart, really makes me wonder. The easy to blame reasons of alienation, bullying, mental illness, bad parenting don’t seem to apply. Not that they ever really explain why we have so many school shootings.
I know so many boys, so many girls, who have been in a similar place in life. So many of my friends, literally princes and princesses of those all-important school dances. Football players. Basketball players. Cheerleaders. I’ve stood on that podium myself. I’ve also been the heartbroken one. We all have.
It’s not about heartbreak. Everyone has a broken heart at some point. Usually as teenagers. Hardly any of us become suicidal mass murderers.
The boys at Thurston High School often hunted and fished before or after school. There were trucks with gun racks in the school parking lot. I would bet that a lot of them were loaded. The ones that weren’t loaded probably had boxes of ammo behind the seats. There were a lot of close calls with gun safety and drinking, but we didn’t shoot at each other. Not on purpose, anyway.
It’s not about guns, although it is my personal opinion that there are far too many people with handguns.
We have easier, safer lives in many ways than anyone who has ever come before us in history. Normal people have luxuries that no one dreamed of even 100 years ago. War, violence, rape, terror have always existed and on a scale that impacted far more of us than they do now. Massacres and genocide are not new to humanity.
It’s not about the world being a more violent place. It always has been.
The boy in Marysville who shot his friends didn’t do it because he didn’t know how to deal with the responsibilities of sex, or a pregnancy scare either. The “right” age to have a sexual relationship is determined by culture, not some black and white dictate etched it stone. It evolves. Some cultures think you should start considering reproducing the minute biology says so. Our current societal norm is older than that.
It’s not about teenagers having inappropriate sex. Pregnancy scares are terrifying and stressful, but they don’t cause people to snap and kill each other. Teen sex has been going on since there has been teenagers and sex–always.
I don’t understand why it happens. I don’t think any of us do. I identify with the pain, but I don’t understand the violence. What is different between the rest of us, and the kids who go into their schools to kill other students and teachers and maybe mostly to ultimately die themselves?
Maybe the only difference is that every time someone kills a bunch of people, we know about it. Maybe this is how it has always been.
I don’t know.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know?
Is it part of the human condition that some people break down and strike out?
Again, I don’t know.