I want to know who he shot, to honor their memory. I don’t want to know his name. I just know how these stories end.
Let me back up.
I was driving to teach a class when I heard the news out of Oregon. A shooting at Umpqua College, in Oregon… reports were unconfirmed, and the numbers kept changing. Ten dead, twenty injured… then seven dead. They said they had the shooter, then we hear that he was “neutralized” (whatever that means).
My commute is long. I heard a lot of this. I was out of sorts teaching my class that afternoon.
By the evening, people stopped reacting to the tragedy and tried to do something with it. Parents were being interviewed, telling secondhand stories. Commentators were already trying to make sense of the shooting and speculating on the shooters motives. By the morning, politics had entered the scene. People for and against gun control, people who want to paint some agenda on the shooter.
I want schools to be safe. They should be. They need to be, if anyone is going to learn. They need to be so we can outgrow this crap.
Here is what I know is going to happen:
- There will be gun control protests.
- There will be gun rallies (not likely in the town, but in the capitol).
- Christians will claim they are being persecuted, regardless of the religious identity of the shooter.
- Both presidential campaigns will talk about the shooting extensively, using the outrage and sympathy for their own goals.
- Students from the school will be endlessly interviewed, and asked to relive that day.
- There will be a TV special about the “heroes” of the day. Eventually, they will be revealed as humans with flaws.
And a year from now not much will have changed. We will have new tragedies to mourn, and a presidential circus to distract us. And the Olympics. And… and… and…
…and I don’t want to know about the shooter. I want to know who he shot. Simply put, there is no sense to be made of this: celebrate the lives of the fallen, and mourn them if you need to. Mourn the twisted mind of the shooter who decided this was how he was going to make his mark on the world.
I’m a teacher. I mourn the loss of those students, of their hopes, of their dreams, and of the loss of peace on campuses across the US.
Now, I’m just exhausted and heartsore.