Schools, Guns, Death: A History of Violence Ready to Change

3 years ago

Across the fields and over the hills, into the cities, and behind the desks, children, teachers, and parents are gunned down - even Wikipedia lists a School Shootings as a page.  The list begins with the 1800s. Students, teachers, parents, and lovers killed each other with the school as a backdrop. A look at the history of the murders reveals a past woven with many tales of anger, revenge, and sadness. Compared to the killings of today, it seems one thing has changed.

In the 1800s, teachers were gunned down by angry parents. One teacher threatened to expel a student. The next day, the father shot the teacher. A student killed a teacher's beloved sparrow (it is unknown whether is was intention or not). The teacher took the child into the backroom the next day and killed him. According to the site, about 16 or so violent acts (that were recorded) happened in the United States with a tie to schools, children, parents, and teachers.

Enter the 1900s. Anger continued to play out on the stage of schools disputes often settled quickly by a gun. In the 1920s, a teacher was fatally shot by the brother of a student. The teacher had whipped the sister the day before.  As an estimate, about 110 or more died due to school violence in those 100 years. The disturbing trend seems to continue. But something has changed. I tried counting the victims of the 21st century. My eyes would wandered into the story of how it happened. Sometimes I'd remember the story. I had to stop counting. If it is painful for me, how does a family heal? A community?

Do we get accustomed to violence? Do we get numb to war? Headlines scroll up on CNN or Yahoo, announcing another group of victims with shock yet familiarity.  It does not take long for these headlines and the heart-breaking photos of the families to be pushed down a few spots within a day or even hours, replaced by a celebrity trend or Paula Deen's new business venture.

The rage bubbles and boils under the human psyche, always. We all have the potential to spout off, get angry, even throw a fit. They were human as are we. What is the difference of those who do and those who don't? In the early days the violence often shot out and hit the person with whom the fight was with: a dead bird, an unjust beating of a child, revenge extolled on a few rather than many.  Today, the carnage, the suffering is on the many - all at once.

Schools practice "lock-downs." Teachers and school staff take classes in self-defense and carry guns to school. When I was growing up, I remember rumors - urban legends perhaps - where students walked in and knifed own their teacher randomly or shot them point-blank. That could never happen to us. Right? There was a stereotype that only the disadvantaged and uneducated killed for no reason. The pattern of death at all these schools - from the 1800s until now - show something different.

Schools, churches, movies theaters, marathons, restaurants, these are gathering places for communities. Like ducks lined up in a row, people walk and sit, easy targets for the new generation of rage to exact their anger upon. Instead of a scorned lover walking in and killing a teacher, it is now a child, a teen, an uncle and nephew, who seek revenge, who seek the answers in death, pain, and suffering. In the past, the shooter would take out only a few, perhaps himself. Today, the killer guns down many.

DSCN0276Take away guns? Give out more guns? Answers? What about the seed level? The hard-work, heart-giving, reach-out-a-hand legislation solution requires we look ourselves in the eye, admit where we screwed up, and kick the violent ego out of the solution. Today the shooters see violence as a solution for their pain; therefore, many suffer at once. Tomorrow - now - we need to see all of us a solution. Broken and tired the old structures fall down upon themselves.

Teachers, as tough as they've always had it, rank pretty high as valiant, caring and loving people. The nurturing of children takes a long time, a very long time. The steps to wake up, recognize signs of pain, find solutions, and work as a community seem to be a start to end the long, long cycle of violence against our children, teachers, and community. We are all human, thus we are all one.

 

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