‘Will we ever learn?’

I don’t blog about news topics all that much. I read it, I have opinions on it, but sharing it? Never really did me much good. While I love to debate a point, sometimes I just don’t care what everyone else is feeling. Unless I’m just flat-out wrong, and quite honestly you’d better be pretty damned qualified to declare that, my views are very much emotionally driven and, thus, I can change my mind but definitely not my heart.

I was reading the Virginia Tech shooter’s plays, at least the ones that were released to the public. I approached them as a professional writer, an armchair therapist and a concerned citizen. And was left with more questions than answers.

The writing is not A-plus work. Plain and simple. As a senior about to graduate with an English degree, his job search was probably going to be a challenging one.

I say this not as a bully, but as probably as an authority figure he would have despised. I mean, there’s a certain amount of creative license you have to allow a budding writer, assuming there’s no one that this might be aimed at. I read his “Mr. Brownstone” tome, and plot/exposition/resolution (or lack thereof) aside, to me it sounded like he wrote Mr. Brownstone as a way to get other kids to identify with him. Kids tend to dislike teachers and others with authority — perhaps he thought people would “get” him or “like” him for putting it out there that he was supposedly just like them.

But was there a human equivalent to Mr. Brownstone, who he used a lot of profanity-laden prose to declare that he wanted to kill?

I don’t know. I know I’ve had my experiences with bullies, and I’ve probably said more than a few careless things in my day as well, whether in response or completely out of context. But whereas these sorts of things make most of us stronger, cruelty often corrodes self-worth in the already-insecure person. And it takes time to build up that confidence and that sort of Teflon outer skin. But that’s what “normal” people eventually do — you develop coping skills, a support network, other things that make you unique and special. You carve out your niche and you start making memories you WANT to have.

What I hope the Seung Cho massacre does is opens up the public’s eyes, once again, to the fact that there are people slipping through the proverbial cracks every day, every minute. Everyone’s getting pushed to the breaking point with pressures to fit in or conform to what others think they should be.

I’m not saying to sympathize with him or even forgive him. It may turn out that he was simply going unnoticed (again, traumatizing) and that he wanted to be known, so he created his fantasy world that squicked people out and didn’t achieve his (possible) goal of making “real” friends. And then he just went and killed people, just to make his mark on the world the only way he felt he could.

What I found about bullies since junior high through now, is that they ain’t all that special. People who annoyed me in high school now live in trailer parks and have five kids to five different baby daddies. Now we’ve got trolls all over the Internet, trying to pretend they’re clever and powerful in their anonymity.

But that brings up something interesting. These people who make threats or try to be threatening, they think they’re doing so with helpless victims. But bringing this full circle, let’s talk about the bullied. Fuck with me one more time, and it might be the time I snap and light up the sky like a Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. Or something like that.

So that leads me to think that the bullies will keep doing what they do until they are put into their places. And someone needs to do it. The persons who are bullied thus get justice and rid the world of pestilence. My conclusion is that these shooters aren’t trying to be heroes — they’re just trying to get a little bit of fucking peace already.

Now, I’m not saying prison or institutionalization (if it comes to that) is peaceful — let’s face it, they kill themselves in a blaze of glory and the world keeps turning. But the things a person will do to make the pain stop, is a case study in and of itself.

The focus of the nation is how we will recover and go on. And we can fly our flags at half-mast and say prayers for the victims and survivors at length (like Katie Heigl’s character said on “Grey’s Anatomy” Thursday, “I can say Hail Marys till I BECOME Mary, but I can’t stop missing you”), but what’s the plan, going forward?

We haven’t seen a school shooting in nearly a decade — that didn’t mean we’d never see one again. Bullies might grow up and go dark from your life (if you’re lucky), but the next generation will grow a whole bunch more to take their places.

A friend of mine went to school at Thurston High School (the shooting before Columbine), and afterward, someone (ostensibly a student) had written on the blackboard, “When will we ever learn?”

It’s chilling, the double entendre — when will they be able to get back to school and feel safe in it, for one, and two, what are we doing to save these damaged souls from being hurt and, in turn, hurting others?

Will the schools be safe when it’s my turn to send my (theoretical) children into this world? And why am I sitting here thinking about it and not DOING something about it?!?!

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