Sunday, April 20, 2014

Where were you when the world ended?

Holly: If you're my age, or maybe just a bit younger/older, you'll understand why the world as I knew it ended, not on September 11th, 2001, but on April 20th, 1999. I was Sophomore sitting in my social studies class when my teacher crossed the room and turned on the corner TV. I didn't understand what was going on at first, but I was soon to learn that two students had gone on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and a teacher. My teacher let us watch the entire class period as the horrendous scene unfolded. At first I wondered why she'd allow us to see students, people just like me, run scared for there lives (while others lost theirs), hands behind their heads as they ran from the school building. But I'm glad she did because it gave me a sense of humanity. If I hadn't watched, what at the time was such a rare event, I wouldn't have taken in the faces of every victim over the coming days. I wouldn't have thought long and hard about how they were students with the same dreams and insecurities as me. I wouldn't be able to reflect on the issues of the shooters and look deep into myself to find what kind of person I was, what I was capable of, both good and bad.

My son is now 11-years-old. He sees events like these on the TV so often that he rarely bats an eye. He hardly has time between killings to reflect on the victims. I feel like such a relic when I tell him I remember the days when things like this were virtually unheard of. And how I was there when the world seems to tilt on its axis and enter another plane where children could let out their angst by mowing down as many of their peers as they could. I was there for the beginning of the end. 

My takeaway from Columbine, all these years later, is to remember that these victims, and the ones that would come after in other school killings, have names and families and people who love them. That the humanity I felt that day in April is something I can teach to my child, to not become numb to the violence but to use it look both inward, as well as at the world around him. To share the humanity I've passed to him with his peers so that they might look at each other with a kind eye. 

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