Saturday, April 21, 2007

Like Cho

I am just trying to understand all of this. And this morning, I woke up, and had these thoughts. They are just my thoughts. Nothing else. I feel so desperate for the families of the victims. I am not accepting or excusing what he did, only God can do that. I am just trying to think through things, work through my feelings, and wonder how Cho felt his whole life. It is bothering me. That is all this post is about. Feel free to comment at length, but please know these are just some things I think about and felt like sharing. I would love to hear your thoughts on this as well. Here goes:

What if
a student,
when asked his name
the first day of school,
stood up,
yet looked down at
bitten fingernails,
felt tears begin
their usual burn, and

"I could be like Cho.
I feel lonely.
I am shy.
I have no friends.
I am shattered inside."

Would you
reach out to him?
Say hello?
Choose him for your
lab partner?
your head
as you passed in the hall?
Laugh at him as others did?
Move to the
other side
of the room
when you see him
all alone, face down,
always face down,
searching out his sandwich.
Willing to be swallowed up,
an instant hole in the ground.

Would your eyes
shine with a terror
you'd never known
when he finally
one day
faced you
eye to eye?

Would "hello" ever have
been enough?

To calm the angry, anxious,
hateful storm
that emerged
on a day,
not unlike today,
in our already
not-safe world.

In a world that has since
been changed forever.

Would hello had been enough?

I think I know.
I feel
no hope arrived.

He made that hole, crawled inside.
But not before taking 32
lives, ruining hundreds,
making thousands fear
their walk outside,
their school,
their children's safety,
the grocery store,

He wanted to be seen.
Nobody saw him
his whole life

And now, because of
one man's anger
at not
being recognized,
will know him
for all our lives.
Those of us who were
not cut short
of life.

How can we be safe again?

Would hello
have been enough?


Alicia said...

I seriously doubt that a hello would've been enough.
He was a sociopath. An odd, silent child turned into an emotionally unstable adult.

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Alicia, I am sure you're right. I was just wondering.

(I keep thinking of the song by the dude who sang Dancing on the Ceiling...what is his name? I know it's NOT Richard Pryor, but why am I thinking Richard? ... LIONEL RICHIE!!!

"Helloo... is it me your looking for?"

Stephanie J. Blake said...

I love your poetry...thanks for putting it into words. I don't know exactly why the world is coming to this violence, but I have a pretty good idea.

Our country has been fighting a war for 4 years. The economy is in the shithole and people are angry at the government. We have lost control of our children. Maybe global warming is doing something to our brains.

Don't get me started!

My son's high school was evacuated here in CO yesterday (4/20) because of a bomb scare. I spent almost 4 hours in fear for him.

I bloggged about my fears here on my parenting blog:

JODI said...

I just wonder often these days why his parents didn't do something for can only claim "shy" for so long...why didn't the parents help there child,is it a case of denial??? Now his parents have two burdens to carry the death of there child and him being a murderer, all because [they] chose to look the other way.

Monnik said...

Good questions, Manic. And beautifully written. I honestly don't know what could have been done to prevent his rampage. There are a lot of sad, shy, lonely people in the world, and most of them don't resort to this kind of behavior...

Anonymous said...

Better yet, how did a man with a history of mental illness documented by officials purchase two guns and a shitload of ammo????? If he'd had a knife he wouldn't have been able to kill so many people. Sure, he could have built a bomb I suppose. But oh what power to wield a Glock like your favorite action hero/villain and mow innocent people down from the other side of a door.

Kate said...

Manic, thank you for your compassionate look into this terribly situation from the point of view of the perpetrator. Sure, one simple hello might not have saved him from himself. I have to wonder though, what this is saying about how we view mental illness and how we treat it. It's confusing and frightening. We can't control the actions of others and we seem unable to truly help those who suffer from mental illness.

I truly feel for his family. Knowing my own struggles with mental illness, there were many times my parents couldn't help me. They tried. And really, once someone is an adult, you can't just lock them up and throw away the key without reason. Maybe some of the blame should be placed with the court that decided that he didn't have to be hospitalized involuntarily. Yes, he might have been able to get guns, but he wouldn't have been able to legally.

And now our president wants people with mental illness to be "identified"? What does that mean? Do I need to wear a big "C" on my chest for "crazy"? How about making mental health care more affordable? How about educating the public on the nature of mental illnesses and how to help people who suffer from them? Mental illness doesn't necessarily make you any more dangerous than the next person. And yet, it can be life-threating to you and everyone around you. Isn't this a wake-up call to help those around us who truly need help?

Oh, and while I'm on my soapbox, can I just say that I'm sick to death of people looking down their noses at others who seek counseling or any kind of therapy for their problems? Or take medications to help them balance their brain chemistry? I especially hate hearing people tell me that I'm weak as they shove that third piece of cake into their face while downing their fourth drink of the night. I know it's not true for everyone, but don't I get some credit for admitting that I have a problem and not denying it and self-medicating? Sorry to get a little off-topic here, but I think that we still stigmatize mental illness and by doing so, we don't do all that we can to help those who need it.

And you know, I do walk faster past the homeless person mumbling to him/herself and avoid that "creepy" weird guy at work. Even I really don't know how to help. I wish that I did. I wish that we all did. And my heart breaks for all those who lost loved ones this week.

Rusty Nails said...

Good job Manic. Don't apologize for looking at the other side. That's objective and smart. I was in LE for over 15 years and am somewhat of a people observer. My initial thoughts when I heard some of the news and stuff was, "I bet that kid was bullied and this is his revenge." Not excusing it. It was brewing for a decade or more. But no one listened or paid attention. No one recognized the signs when he was 10, 12 and on. And then, no one listened to the professors that said he wasn't right at 23.
Alicia stated he was a sociopath. Doesn't fit the true definition or profile. He was a powder keg of anger who erupted in rage taking those who he viewed as his tormentors to the grave.

M said...

Many of the news reports I read specifically included quotes from classmates and teachers who'd said hello, who'd made efforts at conversation and friendship, who'd made that extra effort only to be rebuffed or ignored by Cho.

I think it's important to not confuse his perception of how he was treated with how he was treated (not saying you're doing that, I just mean in general). It's clear from his video speech that he was delusional.

I don't doubt he was not the most popular person, that he was made fun of at times, but the same can be said of many people. The common thread I saw with him was that people around him tried to engage him in conversation and relationships and he completely rejected their efforts.

His teachers and many others were paying attention, trying to help, and he did not take advantage of any of it or possibly even acknowledge it to himself. I don't think any one person's reaching out would have helped because many did reach out to him, he just refused to see it or maybe believe he deserved it.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I have no idea what makes people snap. But to know he was mentally ill and people knew about it but did nothing, is mind boggling. It's a sad, sad situation all around.

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

M--Totally, very great points. Very well said!

I have only seen part of one video he made. Anyone know where I can view more? (Like I need to watch them!?!)

mommyguilt said...

Hey Manic Mom - '87 alum & sister mommy-writer here. Your post is fantastic and definitely takes a look inside what pieces, no matter how large or small,affect the social/anti-social mind.

In response to Jodi's comment, I think often times parents are most definitely in denial, but other times just don't recognize it.

I blog occasionally at MommyGuilt, which and I write regularly as a blogger for Chicago Parent Magzine Online. I recently posted about how one might explain the Virginia Tech tragedy to a child on the autistic spectrum (as I have on son with Asperger's Syndrome), or really, how to explain it to any child. You can check it out Here.

See you in October.

Kate said...

P.S. So sorry for being so harsh before about others' mental health. I was thinking that I was being just as judgemental as I feel like people are being towards me/others. Sigh. Much to learn.

I also think that while many things could have been done by others, at some point, you can't control the actions of others. I think that we all want to make sense of it and maybe the hardest thing is that to a certain extent it doesn't make sense.

Piddler said...

Wow. While reading your poem, I literally had goosebumps.

I have been thinking - out of all the moms who lost kids, I'd rather be any of them than Cho's mother.

I think we have to be very, very, careful trying to figure this out. I think some people are born with "brain defects" that we can't understand. Reading about Cho's mother in the NYT, she worried about his anti-social nature since he was very young. Also, reading about his roommates at VT, it sounds as if they were amazingly tolerant of him.

Thanks again.