Monday, April 20, 2009


My students don't have school today. It's April 20th, 2009, exactly 10 years from the columbine shootings at columbine high school. I drove past the school today and saw the camera crews, the masses there paying respects. It is an honorable thing to do, and it is beautiful to see the love and respect, however, the reason I was driving by the school was because I had to teach at another school. A school that no one outside of Denver has every heard of, but a school where violence occurs almost regularly.
I mentioned to the person I was teaching with that I found it odd that a school so close to Columbine had school today, while all of my students in Littleton did not. That's when I learned a different side of the story, the perspective from those who don't live in suburban america and it was interesting. He told me that the days after columbine where very polarizing to the neighborhoods in Denver. Though they felt it was a horror, and they felt compassion for the people who had lost loved ones, they struggled to understand why this violence was broadcast so widely around the world, while the violence that plagued their halls everyday goes without notice.
I began to think about it. It is interesting that the violence of one school could change so many schools around the country, while others were virtually unaffected by it, not because they didn't care, but because they live with violence all the time.
My students don't really remember the shootings at Columbine, most were in pre-school, though I do have friends that are Columbine alum who were there when it happened. I know people who remember it vividly and describe in great detail the events of the day.
Though I remember and am saddened for the great loss, I am hanging out with a different crowd today. A crowd of students who feel like their only hope is in gang violence. A group of students who walk the halls afraid everyday. Students that I myself have watched be cruel to one another and wonder how far the cruelty would go. It is for these students who don't make the news because they are expected to be violent, a group of students at a school in an area that most people from Littleton won't even drive through.
It's not just a day for remembering a shooting in a suburban high school, it's a day for everyone everywhere who has believed the lie of redemptive violence. That has been suckered into the fantasy world that one more punch, one more put down, one more gun shot will solve our problems. If nothing else, this day reminds us that violence wherever it is wrought does not free us.

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