Do I Have Your Attention?
Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it; history is repeating itself daily and deserves a more attentive audience.
Sixteen years ago I was working as a youth intern for a local church. There was nothing overly special about that day when it began. I enjoyed a gourmet breakfast of top ramen while watching a recording of whatever wrestling event had just happened. It was just a day.
And then, it wasn’t.
Like most days that change our understanding of what life is supposed to be and how far from perfect even the most seemingly perfect lives actually are it came out of nowhere. Well, it seems that way but it actually did not.
Everything is connected and yet, we all try are best to act like they are not. John Donne penned this perfectly when he wrote,
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
Sixteen years ago Columbine happened. Sixteen years ago a piece of American innocence was lost.
Thirteen people lost their lives in what can only be described as one of the most disgusting acts ever perpetrated.
Cassie Bernall, Steven Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matthew Kechter, Dan Rohbough, William Sanders, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Shoels, John Tomlin, Lauren Townsend, Kyle Velasquez, and Daniel Mauser all lost their lives that day.
Even though we are sixteen years removed from the horrors of that tragic day, the past is never far. Alta Loma, Los Osos and Rancho Highschools, located in Rancho Cucamonga, California, recieved a threat last night via Twitter. In what appears to be a calculated move, the threat was meant to reignite the fears we faced April 20th, 1999.
The truth about those who carried out the attack on Columbine is the same truth the for person who chose to use 140 characters to incite fear. They wanted our attention. Not only did they want it, they got it.
Twenty years ago, last Sunday, the Oklahoma City bombings happened. Another day that will live in infamy also opened many peoples eyes to a world that was happening right around them.
These weren’t Jihadists. These weren’t communists. They were white guys. White guys who lived in our country. Unlike Columbine, I don’t remember where I was on this day but I do remember seeing a fireman carrying a bleeding toddler away from the rubble. It scarred me. It scared me. It became part of me. The black and white videos of the Columbine killers stalking the hallways also scarred, scared, became a part of me.
I, in no way, want to justify or defend the actions of those guilty of these crimes. I do, however, want to acknowledge that those responsible were people. They had hopes, they had dreams. They were real in the most real sense of the word.
They didn’t attack our islands, they invaded our continent. They may have been troubled, they may have been lost, they still lived among us. I really don’t want to offend but as much as we join together to mourn the lost, we need to learn from those who took them away from us. I can’t change the past but I can make sure that I learn from it.
I am going to get all positive on you and push love like I just finished listening to a Boyz II Men album (Yes, I took it back to 1997 on you). Even seeing humanity at its worst, I believe that it is still connected to our best. I am proposing that we take a break from trying to cultivate a perfect island and make our way back to the landmass that made us. Pay attention. Engage. Go outside of your comfort zone. All you need is love, hell yeah. Love is better given than received though.
Some people need attention, the longer they are ignored the more they demand.