Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The daily CNN Poll today asks "Are campuses more dangerous than other public places?" I voted with the 90 percent that said no. That is my gut instinct. I feel that safety is an illusion and danger in the form of accidents and sickos is always closer than you realize. Not a cheery outlook, I know.

But upon thinking about my answer, I considered whether I would want to be a middle school or high school student today and I have to answer "Hell no!" I think the relative safety I experienced at my small middle-of-nowhere school district were a sort of end of days. Graduated in 94. After Waco. But before Columbine. I don't think I had ever heard of a school shooting while I was there. I never once went to school in fear for my life. I feel lucky. And terrified of what the next 20 years will bring as I think about how best to school my own children. I can only imagine what the families of the dead in Virginia must be going through and I hope against hope I never have to do more than imagine.

I am not a religious person. But I don't discount the possibilities of what may be after we die. And I had a moment while watching the news that I started to imagine the time just after the shooter had taken his own life. I imagined a scene where the souls of the victims stood over the carnage waiting to see what the afterlife held for them. And amongst them came the shooter. Dead himself. What would that moment be like? The victims and the perpetrator all standing as spirits among the carnage together. Waiting. Wonder if they would have anything to say to him. Now that the power of his guns could not be held over them, now that they were all on equal footing. What would they do? It would have to be a moment of pure honesty, him to them and them to him. I wonder if they would ask him why. Or if it simply wouldn't matter to them at all.

Immediately, my thoughts turn to theatre. And how, as in The Laramie Project, theatre is uniquely suited to exploring such powerful and painful questions. My mind is buzzing.

2 comments:

Tim said...

You would be correct on whether schools are safe. From here:
http://www.neahin.org/programs/schoolsafety/gunsafety/statistics.htm

Less than 1% of all homicides among school-aged children (5-19 years of age) occur in or around school grounds or on the way to and from school.

Between 1994 and 1999, there were 220 school associated violent events resulting in 253 deaths - - 74.5% of these involved firearms. Handguns caused almost 60% of these deaths. (Journal of American Medical Association, December 2001)

253 deaths in 4 years. I'd imagine that means you really don't want to have your kid anywhere but in school. The reason this even gets on the news is both because it is horrible and freakishly rare.

Jooley Ann said...

"I imagined a scene where the souls of the victims stood over the carnage waiting to see what the afterlife held for them. And amongst them came the shooter. Dead himself. What would that moment be like?"

*This* is why you're such a great writer. Or one of the many reasons. What a fascinating, thought-provoking idea....