I get flashbacks whenever I hear about yet another school shooting. We lived in the San Fernando Valley when our oldest two children were in High School. Violence, especially gang violence, was an everyday part of life in that part of the world. My eldest daughter was mugged in broad daylight, in the parking lot of a 7-11, while she was in high school. Her friend was stabbed and had to get emergency surgery, and was critical for a while. She had schoolmates who were murdered. My eldest son was carjacked at gunpoint - he was not injured and his car was even eventually recovered, but it was stressful (to say the least). One of my best friends in Los Angeles lost her son and her nephew to a drive-by shooting - they were not involved in drugs or gangs or any such stuff, they just happened to somehow trigger a homicidal anger in the person who shot them. I can remember at least one time when the local police knocked on our door to ask if we knew or could identify a body found in our neighborhood. You learn to live with this kind of anxiety at the time, but looking back I am surprised that I wasn't more distressed.
We left Southern California to move to Eugene OR in January 1997. Eugene is an interesting place. Very tie-dye, lots of people who are living the voluntarily simple life (or so they say - wages are extremely low there!). While we were living there, and when we had 3 children in high school there was a shooting at the next high school over. May 21, 1998, Thurston High School,Springfield, OR. Here is a timeline for many school shootings - you can see that this is alas not a rare phenomenon.
I was at work 60 miles from home when the news came that there had been a shooting at a high school in the Eugene-Springfield area. In a medical office, as in so many workplaces, one is in a bubble and somewhat isolated from the outside world. And so I was as well. I knew that I was a good hour and a half drive away from home, and that realistically there was little or nothing that I could do, even if the incident had been at my kids' high school. So I finished out the day, hearing tidbits of details as patients came in one by one and shared what they had heard on the news radio or seen on the TV. I learned fairly soon that it wasn't my kids' school, but that didn't make it any easier.
In researching this story, I found this summary of the events of that day, and what followed. I also found this from the Portland Oregonian. Amazing, isn't it, how the internet can keep so much alive and in the present tense, even though it was nearly 9 years ago.
One of the things that I find somewhat surprising is that there has not been a concerted effort to research the mind set of the shooters who survived, who were not shot by police nor managed to shoot themselves. In the few things I have seen about Kip (and he is who I think of, every time I hear of a shooting), I read about a surprised remorse and a sense of the unreality with which he views his actions. Death is unreal - it doesn't seem to be permananent until suddenly it is. If you read what he said about shooting his parents, it seems that he thought that they would find death preferable to the embarassment he would bring them. I recognize that chain of thought. It is one of the things that the enemy of us all whispers in our ears when we are depressed and desparate. It is a seductive vision, especially if one's belief systems do not include the Christian concept that "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
Charles Manson, infamous for his multiple murders, has been associated by some with the Heinlein novel Stranger in a Strange Land. One of the themes in this book includes reincarnation - and it specifically justifies the idea of murder as a means of sending a person back to start all over again.
So, what does this have to do with the school shootings?
Well, something struck me in listening to news coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. It was a commentator on National Public Radio. He or she (I don't remember the details, I was in the car) said something about how these 'children' don't seem to have the respect for human life. I think that the commentator was talking about violent video games especially the 'first-person shooter' games. But it really struck me that this is the generation that grew up with around 1/4 of its members missing due to abortion. And this is also a generation where many have a belief system that justifies abortion due to the belief that the baby's soul is just recycled, that killing the baby now will give it a chance for a 'better life' somewhere else where it is wanted. And hence my somewhat rambling connection of thoughts about the school shooting, respect for life, and some science fictional influence on two generations.
I've had some other thoughts on this over the last few days, but I think I am going to go ahead and post this now. Comments welcome.