Paul Blest on two heartwrenching tragedies and what we can learn from them.
April 10th, 2014
Yesterday, we were shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. A 16 year old sopohomore wielded two kitchen knives and attempted to murder twenty of his fellow classmates and a security guard. In all, twenty-one people were hurt in the attack.
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer asked a student named Mia Meixner about the attacker.
“No. He was very quiet. He just was kind of doing it,” Meixner answered. “And he had this, like, look on his face that he was just crazy and he was just running around just stabbing whoever was in his way.”
She said she didn’t know the boy, but he had been in a lot of her classes. “He kept to himself a lot,” she said. “He didn’t have that many friends that I know of, but I also don’t know of him getting bullied that much. I actually never heard of him getting bullied. He just was kind of shy and didn’t talk to many people.”
Out of the twenty-one hurt, seven were critically injured, but thankfully, all were expected to survive.
December 15th, 2012
Yesterday, we were shocked and saddened by the terrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A twenty year old former student wielded three guns, a Bushmaster AR-15 and two handguns, and murdered twenty-six young children and teachers, as well as his mother, before turning the gun on himself. A friend in college classes that Lanza took while still in high school described him to CBS News:
Just quiet. On one side he, did something unspeakable. On the other, that’s now how I remember him. I remember him as the nice kid I sat near in class.
In all, twenty-eight people died in one of the worst mass murders in American history.
Gun control advocates are sometimes quick to jump the gun after mass shootings to put a political face on tragedy, while at the same time ignoring that guns have long been a tradition in this country. And when activists and the layperson alike make the argument that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, they’re absolutely right. But what you can’t deny is one simple fact: guns make it a hell of a lot easier.
When Alex Hribal took two knives to school with him, he was looking to murder as many people possible as fast as possible. But knives, which are frequently mentioned by the right as “just as dangerous” as guns, are simply not the weapon of choice for mass murderers for a reason. And fortunately for those students at Franklin Regional, Hribal was not armed in the same way that Lanza was, because the attack would have been much more deadly.
The most important thing to take away from these tragedies, however, is the fact that good and nice people can do terrible things. We’re all too quick to dress people up as “monsters”, but it’s important to remember that fundamentally, we’re all the same. And until we stop dismissing mass murderers like Adam Lanza and Alex Hribal as “crazy”, we need to take a look at larger society and change our attitudes regarding mental health. And outside of the issue of gun or knife violence, there is serious ignorance on issues like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or any other disease that causes someone to kill themselves or others.
We should expect better from ourselves. We must expect better from ourselves.
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