Littleton: From the mouths of "babes"greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
My sister e-mailed this to me this morning. A teenagers point of view on Littleton and why it happened. Rather eye-opening. Very sage for someone of that age.
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18-yr-old essayist's insight into the Colorado shooting
From Where I Stand: A Teenager's Voice from Inside the Culture of Death.
On April 20, 1999, there was yet another gruesome shooting in Littleton, Colorado. Kids killing kids. And again, the entire nation in its uproar is trying to figure out why. I am eighteen years old. I live in a small town near Madison, Wisconsin. A small town just like the ones where these horrifying shootings always seem to take place. Every time those stories come on the television, I can't help but notice how easily it could be my small town next. And I want to know why this is happening just as badly as any parent or police chief or anchorman. The thing is, I am right in the middle of it. I am in the same age group as all of these high school kids. So I may have some insight for the world that has been otherwise unattainable since these shootings started some years ago. The night of the Littleton shooting, as I was flipping through the various news channels that were covering the story in Littleton, Colorado, I heard something that struck a chord in me. An anchorman was interviewing the mother of a victim in the Jonesboro shooting. His question was: "If you look at America in the 1950's, you will find that this kind of thing never happened; whereas if you look at America today, this kind of thing is becoming more and more frequent. Why do you think this is happening?" The woman, of course, could not answer the question. In fact, she didn't really even try. But I did. I thought about it for a long time that night. And again the next morning, when my favorite morning radio talk show asked its listeners why they thought this has been happening. Many people said it's the parents of the kids. Many people suggested television and video games. Many people even turned to popular musicians, looking to put the blame somewhere. But I will tell you what I think it is. What I, a regular teenager riding on the coattails of Generation X, blame it on. It is not the parents or the movies or the rock stars. It is AMERICA. It is this culture of death, this culture in which liberals and feminists and activists are so anxious to let anything be "OK" that the once tightened, knotted rope of society is unraveling right beneath us. Don't you see? There can be no order without discipline. All of those things people think are causing children to run into a school and shoot their teachers and peers and even kids they don't know-the movies, the video games, the parents, the rap artists-they are only REFLECTIONS of our society. Society breaks down, from one big metaphoric "family" into 50 metaphoric "families" and so on and so on, until you have the actual FAMILY, the one with the parents and the kids and the dog. It is not one thing or two things; it is the attitude of an entire "familiar" nation being reflected back at us in the kids. Just as that anchorman suggested, something was different about the 1950's. WE WERE CONSERVATIVE. We had boundaries; we had a definite knowledge of right and wrong throughout the entire nation. We didn't have feminists pushing women so hard to go get a job that a woman who didn't have a job was somehow "bad," thereby leaving kids at home with inadequate parental guidance and often times with parents who were truly unhappy. We didn't have liberals fighting so avidly to legalize everything that it was at the point of completely blurring the line between good and bad. We didn't have a nationwide media surge dedicated to sex and violence so intense that if you weren't playing killing video games at age 14, then you were trying to choose between contraceptives beforehand or abortion afterwards. We didn't have disputes over whether or not we should help someone who is dying die sooner-over whether or not we should ASSIST them in committing SUICIDE. And we certainly didn't have a President who was in favor of NATO bombing and killing children in Serbia come on the television to grieve the loss for the families of children killed in America. We live in a loosely tied society, a culture dedicated to death. If you don't want the kid, kill it. If you don't want to live out the rest of your God-given days, kill yourself. Or better yet, have someone else come help you do it. I guess, no matter how horrible or gruesome or gut-wrenching it may be, it was just a matter of time before someone got that "killing-as-a-means-to-an-end" idea stuck in their head for the part between birth and death as well. Everything that happens in families and cities and states and countries is the mirror image of the big picture. We are falling apart as a society. Am I some random normal teenager in Farmertown, U.S.A.-the only one who sees that? It's sad and it's hard to believe, but what's worse is that it's scary. I think it's time for our-America's-Mom and Dad to ground us-to say, "If you don't shape up by the time I count to three..." And then really count to three. Because we are running wild and pretty soon we're going to be too far from home to ever get back. There was once a great saying by a famous man that has rung true throughout the history of mankind-in every family and in every society and in every social group and in every religion-it was a frighteningly true statement that cannot be disputed. I am reminded of it now, in the wake of yet another indescribably tormenting result of a nation gone haywire. "By their fruits you shall know them." by Sarah Roney April 21, 1999
-- winna (??@??.com), May 06, 1999
It is AMERICA. It is this culture of death, this culture in which liberals and feminists and activists are so anxious to let anything be "OK" that the once tightened, knotted rope of society is unraveling right beneath us. Don't you see?
I see. I have seen it for some time now...couldn't have said it better myself..
-- shellie (email@example.com), May 06, 1999.
I grew up in the 1950's and everything was wonderful. Everybody was happy, or so they say. Child abuse and wife beating was a family affair, and nobody else's business. My friend's mother beat her with a broom stick until her head looked like a pumpkin. Her nose was broken, and she missed three weeks of school. It was her business.
A girl who got pregnant during the school year was ostracized, taunted and ultimately kicked out. At church her sin was referred to obliquely, and again she was shunned, which guaranteed she would never come back. And then there was the preacher who hugged too often, too long and too tight, but you didn't dare say a word as he was a fine Christian man. And the teachers were not alllowed to drink in public, but would go out of town in order to have a before, or after dinner drink.
And we still had murders, and adultery, graft and other crimes, but they were not blared over the TV and were rarely discussed in front of the children. The music was great, but it horrified my grandparents.
And most kids did not have cars, and schools were not covered with parking lots full of new cars driven by kids. And we didn't divide people into conservatives and liberals, and other stereotyping labels, but we knew who was who. Our Miss Brooks and Happy Days was not typical of most schools or teens, nor was Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver typical of most American families.
Television reported our WWII accomplishments and the industrial boom; scandals were kept in the closet along with gays. McCarthyism raged, and just a rumor could ruin a person. Racism flourished, the Mafia flourished and lots of moms had no choice but to work for slave wages. I know, my mother was one of them. The Korean War blundered along, but luckily, TV had not brought the war to our living rooms yet.
The build and consume period slipped into high gear and corporations were getting rid of small mom and pop businesses, which ultimately caused the demise of neighborhood communities. The wholesale rape of the enviornment ramped up and hasn't stopped yet. I recall swimming in a lake as they sprayed it with DDT. Schools consolidated, further disrupting neighborhoods. Sports began the spiral into big business, and big business began to choose our political leaders.
People had no choice in dying, nor in suffering. Some of the suffering I saw is too horrible to think about. People who didn't walk with the conservative agenda, Happy Days fairy tale, were considered queer, odd or outcasts. Bars and beer joints flourished.
But in looking back, it all seems much nicer. It was quieter and cleaner. The population has doubled since those days, and that alone is enough to cause a tension in society that was unknown before. Unless you lived during the time in question, you really don't know the whole story. From the mouths of babes sometimes come statements that sound surprisingly like a budding religious right, conservative politician.
-- gale (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 1999.
You got it, gale. That "article" was written by no teenager!
-- don't miss (the"goodolddays"@all.isay), May 06, 1999.
One of the great posts. Thank you.
-- RUOK (email@example.com), May 07, 1999.
a.k.a. William Bennett....?
-- Tom Carey (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 07, 1999.
At first I didn't think it was a teenager either, but then I remembered working with a teenager in about 1992. I was 32 and supervising some work being done. The people I was working with were "weird", spiked hair with loud colors. Gen X was the catch phrase then. That's what I was thinking too.....Damn generation x kids, don't care about anything........Anyway somehow the topic was the environment and this one kid astounded me. He began naming one coorp after another that was endangering our water. I gained a true respect for children and their capabilities after that enlightening conversation. I havn't underestimated their abilities, or knowledge either. Often in discussion a teenagers wisdom will show itself, but I don't underestimate their emotions anymore. It certainly helped me treat my children as humans and not underlings.
BTW, it does sound like that "vast right conspiracy" doesn't it?
-- R. Wright (email@example.com), May 07, 1999.