Saturday, March 3, 2012

No Bad Kids

While I was traveling 1,230 miles from home, 117 miles away from it a horrible tragedy was taking place when a 17-year old kid walked into a high school and began shooting.  As I read more about it in the following days, it strikes even closer to home.  I find myself not only aching for the families who have lost  their children, but I feel an ache for the shooter, as unpopular as that may be right now.  I saw a photo of him at one point during the week being escorted to the courthouse where he was formally charged with three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated attempted murder and one count of felonious assault.  This rather delicate looking boy, shackled and wearing a bullet proof vest, had his eyes closed as though he was trying to float through the situation he found himself and hoped that he would eventually wake up to find out he was in a really bad dream.  Based on what I could read of his comments immediately after the shooting, I wondered if he really appreciated the consequences of his actions at the time of the shooting.  Like he thought he was playing World of Warcraft and it wasn't quite all real until the aftermath when it became all very real.  I'm sure as time unfolds we'll learn more and more about this troubled young soul, but when I read that his parents were not present in the courtroom for his arraignment, my heart really ached for him.

Nonetheless three human beings are dead.  Countless others have had their lives forever changed at the hands of this boy.  He has to atone for his actions.  What I just kept wondering during the week if there weren't some other people who should be atoning for it as well.  Like perhaps those missing parents.  And, that got me wondering, uncomfortably so, if Kelsey had been a boy could she have turned her fears and troubles outward instead of inward and what could have potentially happened then?  I'd like to think I was a better parent than that.  But, truth is, I think I became a better parent than that only after she began to get sick.  I will give myself credit for realizing I needed self improvement and being open to it, but from what I can tell, the adults in this kid's life never had anything remotely akin to a parenting epiphany, and what he knew of the world was conflict, anger and abandonment but very little love.

That's judgmental on my part.  I don't know these people.  They may love him very much, but my mantra has become:  love is not enough.  Everything I'm reading tells me he was raised in a atmosphere of violence.  Can anyone really be surprised when he chose violence to address feelings and situations he didn't really have the maturity to understand within himself?  I'm sure lots of violent people love, in their own sense of that word, the people they abuse.  

My other mantra:  there are no bad kids.  Of course I realize that is not entirely true.  Some of us just come out of the womb wired wrong and nothing anyone can do will fix that.  If you accept there are extraordinarily virtuous and selfless people in the world, like Mother Teresa and Ghandi, then it stands to reason there are monsters walking among us too.  But, I think that's the extreme exception.  When I see a boy like T. J. Lane I see a troubled kid with the potential to be guided into a productive, fulfilled adult.  I'm so happy when I see and hear from the individuals that Kelsey and Marissa went to high school with.  They are living proof of what I believe.  I think he could have been like them with the right guidance.  But now it's too late.  Now he's a murderer.  

My heart was so heavy all week.  This is a tragedy every way you look at it.  I don't care if Mr. Lane knew the kids he shot or not.  I don't see that it makes a difference.  All I can think of that will make a difference now is if parents out there who may share some things in common with the Lanes use this as a wake-up call and get the help and support they need so they can in turn support their kids and prevent any future T. J. Lanes.  One can always hope.

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