Monday, March 27, 2006

We’re all equal in the face of what we’re most afraid of...

On Saturday morning something jerked me out of sleep at a few minutes before 7AM. I didn't think anything of it then.
Around 10AM I got the first call.
Did you hear anything?
Do you know anything?
Was it close to you?

I went up the street a few blocks and confirmed there was major police activity happening up the road.
My relatives had been calling all day, I guess that happens when your neighborhood and street make national news.
A lot of my relatives have not seen me since I was a teenager so in their minds I am still the little goth/punk girl who would have been at one of those parties.
The truth? The latest confirmed victim was only 3 years older than my own daughter. I'm looking at this heartbreaking tragedy not only through the eyes of someone who would have easily been at one of these parties ten years ago and know what types of bonds these kids have, but mostly through the eyes of a mother who can't understand what would make someone do something like this. I can't even begin to fathom what the parents of these kids must be thinking. I try to put myself in their place in my head and I just cry, want to be sick, and want to put my daughter under lock down indefinitely. I know that is impractical, but nothing about the events of this weekend were practical or logical. I don't think there is anything that could've been done to prevent it either. I don't blame the rave. I hope it helps with stricter gun control laws, but who knows if even that would make a difference?
I question the age of some of the kids who were at a party at 7AM, but then I remember when I was 15 and how I would tell my parents I was going one place and I would really end up staying at places very similar to the house where this particular party took place.
With each generation our young people get older, are faced with bigger problems, more temptations and more pressures. I doubt many of the parents of kids who were at the party really knew that their kids were there. They probably thought they were staying the night at friend's houses.
It is a part of youth, a right of passage if you will, to sneak out and get into a little trouble. To stretch your wings and try things out for yourself. Most of the time the kids don't find themselves in potential war zones or in the center of history making violence.
This is the kind of thing that parent's nightmares are made up of. This is the kind of thing that will haunt me forever. I will think of it every time my daughter leaves the house for her remaining teenage years. The same way I remember that little 11 year old girl snatched outside of the car wash walking home in broad daylight and later found dead, when my daughter begs to walk to the store on her own. Or Adam Walsh who's story has haunted me since I was younger than he was when he disappeared and who I think of every time my daughter tries to leave my sight in a grocery store even now. Or how I think of the children of Columbine every time I send my baby to school.
The ghosts of these kids will pepper every decision I make from now on whether it is conscious or not. I will think of them in 6 years when my daughter asks to go to a dance or a party on her own. I will think of them when I am considering letting her have her own car and the freedom that goes with it.
My heart goes out to their mothers.

"When the moment strikes
it takes you by surprise and
leaves you naked in the face of death and life
there is no righteousness in your darkest moment
We’re all equal in the face of what we’re most afraid of
And I’m so sorry
for those who didn’t make it
and for the mommies who are left with their heart breaking
Search for meaning in sores
The sentences they might form
It’s the grammar of skin
Peel it back, let me in
Look for hope in the dark
The shadow cast by your heart
It’s the grammar of faith
No more rules, no restraint"


AndyP (Seattle, WA) said...

I ask, when exactly did society start breaking down? When I was in school (1969-1982) no one ever thought of gunning someone down, knifing someone or things along that line. What made this "acceptable" in our society? Where did parents, peers etc... drop the ball? I try to look at the liberal, "progressive" agenda in this country that allows blame to be deflected to an alcholic mother, bad father, etc...but feel this can't be it because violence is not a "progressive" idea and no sane human being could advocate it. I then look at the conservative agenda and it's "put God in charge" line. Always pointing back to the 50's and it's squeaky clean image. Somehow I figure the bad shit from that time was swept under the rug and that a clampdown of any kind, or a return to an oppressive era will not fix a damned thing. Personally, I think the acceptance of the "urban" lifestyle as mainstream and the devaluation of human life is part of the issue, but is not entirely to blame. It has to be a factor, however. Michelle, we have the same fears as you with our son, granted he is a boy and will have a better chance at defending himself, but, short of moving to an Iowa farmtown, we are scared to death.

Shawn Anderson said...

AndyP... I think you're lost in a bit of a myth that we're being sold.

Statistically, this sort of thing happens less then it used to... we just live in a time (Fox news-driven fear agenda) when it's given the big headline. We can say we never feared getting shot at school, but kids were getting shot at school more often and we just never heard about it, and thus were allowed the innocence we enjoyed. Also, having grown up in a rural environment, I can tell you that you're more likely to get shot on an Iowa farm then in a Seattle neighborhood. It just won't make the evening news like it might here.

It's a culture of fear that we've been immersed in for awhile now, and it's starting to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as fear leads to despair and depression... and more importantly, it leads to folks buying guns, and the more guns people buy, the easier it is to obtain one on a psychotic whim.

It's not a popular thing to bring up in the face of a tragedy like this, I understand, but I think it's necessary.

Of course my heart truly goes out to all the victims' families, nothing, as a parent, can be worse then this.

My biggest fear as a parent, is that other parents will have too much fear... as it's not healthy for all concerned. Or at least, I hope that this is channelled into a focus on to gun control issues, and not on stronger laws inhibiting teens.

I understand why it's big news, but let's also remember it's national news because all the victims are white. This sort of thing happens every day in South Central L.A. and it's rarely a blip on our radar. Let's not forget how lucky we are, and how much work needs to be done in our country making all neighborhoods safe to raise a child in.

I don't mean to lessen what happened here, but instead put it in a bigger picture.

Let's rally around doing the right thing.

AndyP (Seattle, WA) said...

Drake...I understand the culture of fear and do think that is part of the picture, but, can't totally believe that this is causing a rush to arms. Also, getting a gun or threatening to shoot some one is the product, what are the factors leading up to it? We may have been shielded a bit back in the day, but, I don't think the process back then was..."I was wronged, go shoot them." Something changed in society that made A go to B. I will not be sucked into the left wing vortex that blames everything on FOX, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly, nor will I be sucked into the right wing vortex that blames our problems on the move away from God. It can't be that simple. It can't be something political. Somewhere we have lost the ability to know right from really wrong and I can't put my finger on it.

Michelle Auer said...

I think you both make very valid points.
I do think we need stronger rules on gun control and I hope if anything comes of this, that will.
I also agree that every parents' knee jerk reaction is to never let their child leave their sight again, BUT I also understand that no one can live life like that. Living in constant fear is no way to live.
Basically what I see happening is this. Whenever there is harm done to a child, every parent in the world puts themselves in the shoes of the vics parents. It is a very emotional time. All we can do is hope something positive can come from it all at the end of the day.

Shawn Anderson said...

I'm sorry if I came off a bit high and mighty... I just didn't see how the comment related much to the tragedy.

The killer is an adult (26,) raised in a rural setting (the wilds just outside Whitefish, MT - where my mother grew up) and jumped bail with his guns to come to Seattle to hide from his past.

My mother could tell you kids had knives and threatened to use them in school in the 1960s. My grandfather told me some scary violent stories about his growing up in rural Montana in the 1930s, when he and his brothers encompassed a gang, and my grandfather even planned to murder someone when he was 17 (but by the time he figured out who to get his revenge on, the target had already been murdered by someone else.)

When I was in school, there was some dark Dungeons & Dragons things going on, and I heard later that a kid in a nearby town was murdered in some D&D inspired ritual, but it was kept from us. We were allowed to grow up innocent.

And that's what scares me more... not that this shit happens, but that my child can find out about all this violence w/o me being able to keep him somewhat innocent.

Shawn Anderson said...

To get back to a previous post, my blame isn't political, it's based on psychology. Fear leads to violence, especially in children. You escalate the level of fear in people, you escalate the level of violent response. Seems too simple to be true, but study after study shows it to be true.

Even when people bring up violence as a culprit, folks love to point at the wrong target: video games. In actuality, a lot of thought has gone into the idea that video game violence actually works in favor of the child... an empowering outlet for the natural rage that all children have, to some degree.

Yet passive violence always seems to get a free pass... and we're far more willing to censor nudity. It's the perfect recipe for a more violent society. Nothing political about it... it's scientific. Of course, science is under attack by politics, so who knows how long we can rely on such things as 'facts.'

Andy... this isn't meant as a diatribe against you or anybody... but it's just one of the few things that gets me going and I can't help myself. It's so annoying (just ask my wife.)


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