Friday, April 20, 2012

when it's my time to go

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, 
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, 
and their departure was thought to be an affliction,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
(Wisdom 3:1-5)

Today, I had the most incredible conversation with a classmate about Columbine and columbinus. Last week in class, it came up in discussion that he was from near Littleton. Out of the blue, practically on a whim or gut feeling, I asked him about Columbine. We chatted about it for a few brief moments, but then made a coffee appointment to discuss Columbine in more depth.

As it ended up, we got coffee today. A little bit of Providence, as he put it. It was an incredible conversation. He said one of the most discussed questions was not the question: How could this happen? (although that was definitely prevalent in people's minds), it was: 
How could this happen here?

Our country has grown so tolerant of violence in certain environments. We expect the inner city schools to have gang violence, drug problems, bullying, etc. It's horrible of us, but it's true. If something like the Columbine tragedy had happened in anywhere but Columbine, there wouldn't be  the same questioning regarding it's occurrence. As my friend says, we asked the wrong questions. The question was: "How did these boys find machine guns and pipe bomb makings in Littleton?"    

He told me about the cognitive dissonance that pervaded the scene as they watched the police approach a school, unsure of what to do. Their opponents were just two high school boys. But these two boys had machine guns and propane tanks. Fire trucks and police cars surrounded the high school, and parents and members of the community demanded that they enter the high school. A high school that was a massacre scene. My friend explained the bizarre feeling that pervaded the whole day and the weeks following.

It was so fantastic to share his experience and his thoughts and memories of the day. We also discussed the questions that Columbine and columbinus force us to pay attention to. As he said, so many people tried to stop the bleeding, instead of healing the wounds. What columbinus and Columbine force us to remember is that everyone is broken and wounded, and anyone can snap. The question of what makes  someone so broken they can snap is a question that will always be relevant, and always a question humans will have to confront.

It was a beautiful conversation, and a beautifully meditative way to remember the day.

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