Littleton, Colorado is not an unsafe place. Trust me, I grew up there. But the Littleton on CNN is not my Littleton. Or so I’d like to believe. That’s what we’d all like to believe. We hear of tragedies in rural Arkansas or elementary schools in towns we’ve never heard of; we call it terrible and wish something were done and move on with our lives. But Littleton is different. These are my people. Those kids aren’t just nameless, faceless therapy cases. These kids are my neighbors – kids I saw every day of my life, kids I laughed with. The suspects always used to hang out at the Subway just up the road. It was a part of me that they filmed and broadcast around the world. And what did they show? Kids running from their school under siege. Something’s not right.
Less than six hours after they left the school, groups of students met together to let out their emotions and to be with one another and to be safe. To broadcast this scene of suffering, of pain and renewal, simply to show the world exactly what they already knew – that this is a terrible thing and that people are suffering – is unnecessary. To show wounded bodies dripping blood being whisked away on stretchers, simply as proof of the horrific happenings is simply unforgivable. If your human decency or common sense doesn’t tell you that, then the fact that that was my neighbor, my best friend, my sister should.
As much as the media’s coverage of the event didn’t please me, however, I refuse to crucify them; they only report what happens. These kids, we’re told, wore black trench coats. They were different, social outcasts, not accepted by the popular crowd. Since when, I ask, is it a crime to be unpopular? The term “Trench Coat Mafia” is nothing more than a name attached to these kids by their peers. In the many e-mails I have received over the last week, the most touching moment came when a friend, in a fit of brutal honesty, admitted that he, too, would have been one of the crowd making fun of them. No matter what else one says about these kids, they are a product of the people around them – us. Me.
Regardless of the level of acceptance I think I lend to my fellow man, I know very well that because these kids were different, I would not have given them a chance. I, too, would have been one of the crowd. They are who they are, not because of TV or the media or movies, but because of me. If just one student – no, if I had told them that I loved them for the person they were, would things have been different?
To pinpoint the one problem in this situation is impossible; there are too many. The kids shouldn’t have been exposed to the ideas that formed their plan; they shouldn’t have had the ability to get the guns or bombs. But most of all, they shouldn’t have been feeling the way they felt.
If no one will assume responsibility, will anything ever change? What is it that makes a person into a maniac? Only questions are raised, and there are no answers. There’s nothing you can say. Something is terribly, terribly wrong with the world.