O friends, be men; so act that none may feel ashamed to meet the eyes of other men. Think each one of his children and his wife, his home, his parents, living yet or dead. For them, the absent ones, I supplicate, and bid you rally here, and scorn to fly.
- Homer, Greek Epic Poet (c. B.C. 700)
I think most people would agree that there’s such a thing as a healthy amount of racial pride a person can carry with themselves. I myself would even say it’s preferable for people to know their background and take pride in their heritage.
Some would argue that point I’m sure, for instance, many people have been indoctrinated to associate racial pride with nightmarish images of say, torchlit rallies in 1930s Germany, but the ironic thing is, some of those very same people trained to be fearful of racial or hereditary pride would be the first people to cheer on all the lovely people at the hometown gay parade. If a gay person can take a healthy amount of pride in who they are, can’t we agree there’s such a thing as a healthy amount of pride for all of us?
I once heard a black comedian talking about how he’d watch the news and a story would come on about a burglary or a rape in the neighborhood and the first thing he’d say to himself was, “Don’t be black, don’t be black, don’t be black!”
I know most Muslims in America have been saying the same thing to themselves even before 9/11. I had an Arab girlfriend at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and remember quite distinctly her outrage and mine as well when the first reports surfaced of how some Arab in a turban was spotted near the scene, only to have the truth turn out to be that the evil had been delivered in the form of some deluded white boy whose name isn’t even worth repeating.
Not long after the 9/11 attacks, I can imagine Arabs and Muslims across America, hanging on every syllable of the names being released in the Beltway sniper attacks in 2002, the collective sound of the news as it came across the networks and the thoughts of Arabs and Muslims across America probably sounding something like this:
“Police have released the names of the two suspects arrested in connection with the Beltway sniper shootings . . .”
“John . . .”
“Allen . . .”
I feel the exact same way. Whatever the news story is, if it’s bad news, I’m telling myself, just don’t let it be white. Do not let it be white.
Which leads me to my disgust at all these recent spree killings and the much longer history of white people and serial killings.
Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, as just mentioned, there were the Beltway sniper killings, the was guy who killed all those kids in Atlanta in the late 70s and early 80s (and I know these assholes’ names, I just don’t even think they’re worthy of any mention) but once you get past a few exceptions, why does it have to be that every time we hear about another mass shooting, you know it’s going to be some white, deranged loser?
It’s a human tragedy first and foremost, let’s make that perfectly clear, but I have to take this especially personal as I myself am white and have been described by some as deranged, but I do make the one caveat that there’s a very big difference between my loner tendencies and those of the losers who tried feebly to strike out at the world by ending their lives in a killing spree.
I know the profile. I hate to admit it, but I am the profile. Upper-middle-class, intelligent / nerdy, ostracized . . . miserable doesn’t even begin to describe my high school experience. I kid you not, every day I dreaded the prospect of lunch time and having to take it alone in the library because that was better than having to sit by yourself without any friends for everyone to see out in the quad. I hated each and every day to the point where I came out of high school like a victim of P.T.S.D. and I mean no offense to people who have actually served in combat, but at my mental state as a young teenager before I got shipped off to that Mormon prison camp (ahem, reform school) in Utah, I really do think I was mentally like a combat victim: numb, shell-shocked and mentally-scarred.
For the two guys especially who picked on me mercilessly for no reason other than they just could . . . I mean, there were these two guys, I didn’t even know who they were when they started picking on me, everyone else knew who they were, because they were somewhere in the upper-echelon of the social scene, or the “soshes” as we called them at our school, but I wasn’t even in that scene, so I had no idea who they were when they started with me. One day, out of the blue, they just started laying into me about the size of my head and my haircut, calling me “Frankenstein”, and from then on, it was just merciless, they were calling me Frankie in P.E. class, making my life hell every day in junior high to the point where I was so beaten down, by the time junior high was done and high school started, I didn’t feel I had any chance whatsoever of having anything resembling a normal social life in high school. They were bullies in the classic sense of the word, and this was long before the word got overused and played-out.
I’m not going to name names, but the great irony in my story (and their’s to some degree) is that these two people went on to become the two most famous (and we’re talking “uber-famous”) of all the graduates of Lincoln Junior High and Corona del Mar High School. (And no, I’m not talking about Kelly McGillis or Lars Ulrich and yeah, you can get your restraining orders out on me if you want, but I’m totally over it.)
The two most ruthless of my junior high tormentors are actually famous, and I actually did have Columbine-type of thoughts with them at the very center of it. (And this is before Columbine and before they got famous, so these weren’t copycat thoughts I was latching on to or a fixation on making myself a household name.)
That’s all ancient history now and you may wonder why I even would even want to recount it, but I feel no shame in doing so, one, because it was a blessing to be that beaten down and humbled socially in school because it gave me a truly Christian view that every single one of us is no better than the other in the eyes of God, and two, because I survived it. I survived that shit. Most importantly, if there’s any one out there who has thoughts of lashing back out at the world, I can speak to you now as someone who knows how it feels to be kicked that far to the side of the social road and that I myself at one time could imagine seeking that same sort of vengeance.
You may be a loner in high school, that doesn’t make you a loser. You have no idea how much things can change once you get out. There’s a good chance you’ll end up shocked, maybe even a little disappointed at just how normal your life ends up. That’s okay, there’s no reason you have to stay so perfectly normal.
And you may have been a loner in high school and you might never end up anything close to normal. That’s okay too, as a matter of fact, many of the greatest achievements in human history came from people who never even had a hint of anything normal in their lives.
You can make it through that and never have to be embarrassed of how awkward or weird people might have thought you were back in junior high and high school and if you make it through, you can wear that like a badge of pride.
Don’t do something that will forever put you in the lowest league of embarrassments to the human race. If you’re seriously considering going on a killing spree, just consider whether you really want to go out like those two losers at Columbine, whose names aren’t even worthy of being repeated by anyone. You don’t want to be like that loser in Aurora, who could have just killed himself alone and maybe even gotten some sympathy from the rest of the world in doing so, but instead, he made himself into a shit stain on the underwear of history, the lowest of the low, an unimaginative parody of outrage, a filthy sponge that soaked up one too many Hollywood films and somehow thought that would be cool to just shoot up a bunch of random strangers. No man, all he did was embarrass himself and his family name and thankfully I can’t even remember that loser’s name any more.
Don’t be that guy. Especially you, white people, because obviously you need to hear it the most and you’re embarrassing the hell out of the rest of us. Talk about the feebleness of first-world people and their first-world problems.
We can even have a debate on whether suicide might be wrong or whether it might be something a person has a right to choose for themselves, but do not be that guy whose final statement was some pathetic attempt to lash out at a world which will only remember you with disgust and forget your name sooner than you can even imagine.
Find another way of channeling your pain and your grievances with the world. That is not how you want to make a name for yourself.