Monday, April 16, 2007

One of those Horrible Days

When I checked CNN this morning it was only one killed and one injured, then it was 7 dead, then 21, 29, 31, and now 33 dead. There is this horror and sadness for the families of the victims and the faculty and students that had to witness the violence and be there. Then there are the rest of us who find ourselves struggling with this darkly familiar scenario another school or workplace surrounded by ambulances and SWAT teams.

These things bring me back to when I sat with a mother of a young man who was trapped at a workplace shooting in Sunnyvale back in February 1988. She was a girlfriend of a co-worker of mine who worked nearby. She had heard from her son who had called her from under his desk to let her know that he was trapped under his desk while the shooter was walking around shooting. It was a five hour siege. The shooter killed 7 people and injured four. Fortunately, her son got out okay. All I could do was sit with her and just imagine what her son was going through and what this mother must be going through.

I still have a t-shirt commemorating the Montreal Massacre of December 6, 1989 where Marc Lepine separated the men and the women in a classroom and killed 14 women while winking at the men.

When my husband and I were at SFSU in 1994, a student went to his girlfriend's dorm room and shot her and then himself. The dorm buildings loomed tall on campus and the entire campus was in shock. Then I was working in San Francisco Financial District just blocks away from 101 California shootings.

Then there was Columbine, Kip Kinkle, and the countless other sites of tragedy.

When you are a student or employee you volunteer to be stuck somewhere that could be a target for a disgruntled person who can easily get semi-automatic weapons that can kill many people from a comfortable distance. You cannot kill as efficiently by any other means (except for maybe bombs or WMD).

Bowling for Columbine tried to delve into why our country is unique in the amount of gun violence in the world. Although Moore did try to be comprehensive, I think he may have just touched the surface. I think we have a lot of troubled people in this country who do not get help because no one takes the time to look out for each other and guns are plentiful and very easy to get. Many of these troubled people don't have a criminal record and were law abiding citizens who could pass for "responsible gun owners." When these people snap for the first time, people pay with their lives.

We are second to China on how many our government puts to death via the death penalty -- we believe in solving problems through violence. We don't believe in diplomacy because it is seen as being weak or akin to appeasement, so instead we focus on military might to solve our problems. Violence is so a part of our culture that it isn't that hard to understand why when people with warped minds and a sense of injury would seek violence to solve their problems. I am not arguing that we should let murderers off the hook for what they do, but I am saying that our culture is somehow complicit in this phenomena.

I am incredibly sad and angry today. Prayers go out to the victims and their families.

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