They Learned to Hate

I written and told my story about Friday the thirteenth enough times that it seems a little exhausting to write it again. So I’ll be brief.

I was in the Arapahoe High School shooting. I was three hallways away. I didn’t know the victim, but I did know the shooter. And I am having a rough time trying to get everything back to normal. But as an Arapahoe Student said, “If nothing else, we all have stories to tell”.

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And he is right. All of our stories are different, but all are alike in one way, we were all there. Since December 13, 2013, there has been eleven shootings. Leaving thirteen injured and two dead. And after experiencing the situation, I have a new found perspective. And I don’t think I would have had this perspective if I didn’t know Karl.

This perspective isn’t excusing the shooters of their wrongdoings, but taking into account everything that lead up to it. On December 12, Karl spoke to my sister on her off hour. They talked for about twenty minutes before my sister had to head to the library. The last thing Karl said to her was, “Stay cool. You’re one of the good ones”. And with everything that happened, I think it gave my sister a sense of reassurance that the last words they shared weren’t in vain or hilarity, but they were sincere and heartfelt.

There has to be a lot that has to build up in order for someone to not be able to see another way out of it. Piles and piles and piles of hatefulness and unkind words and actions. And fourteen people, including Karl, couldn’t find that light at the end of the tunnel. And the accounts I have heard about the people who commit these acts of terror, they say it was because of bullying. And the people who patronized and bullied Karl are now able to say that he was never a good person, but little do they know he was.

The people who contributed to the hate-fire of the shooters are able to say they did nothing wrong. It makes my heart and head hurt thinking about what these people had to go through in order for them to do this. This is including every school shooting and bombing and suicide attempts and every act of violence or terror that children had to watch or hear, but also for the people who had to go through with these thoughts. It’s heart-wrenching to think that people, teenagers at that, have to go through these things. When you’re a teenager, you are expected to make mistakes.

Maybe drink too much at a New Years Eve party. Or even get a DUI (which I don’t advise and I’m not taking Justin Bieber’s side. Hell, he could kill someone and his fans would be like, “he’s nineteen, he is allowed to make mistakes,” just saying). And now we hear about school shooting almost constantly. And we say it’s a terrible thing, but what do we do? We continue to bully and act hatefully toward people.

That is what causes these tragedies. And to think that if people treated other people with respect, that maybe Claire Davis and fellow people who died in school shootings could still be here. I don’t understand, and quite frankly, it makes me so aggravated that these tragedies have to keep happening. When are we going to have actual change? Why do children have to be afraid to go to school because, as we’ve seen, it could to happen to any school. I thought Arapahoe was the safest school. And honestly it was.

And I thought I would never have to go through something like this. I never would of thought I would be scared for my life and a random Friday. But when the time came, and it happened, I realized, no matter how cliche it is, to count my blessings. Because that day could have gone worse. If, and I know you’re going to kill yourself with the ‘what ifs’ but, he walked in through a different exit with a different weapon, we could have been going to funeral after funeral after funeral.

But, I am thankful, not for Claire and Karl dying, but thankful that more people weren’t hurt. To be completely honest with you, I’m not scared to go to school. I’m not afraid to walk through that hallway. I’m not afraid. I am more timid than anything. Because walking past the library, or where the bench where Claire was sitting was supposed to be, or walking in and out of that exit makes me think back to everything that happened.

And those random flashback will pain you, and them come in the most random times. I was sitting in sixth period a few days ago and someone clapped. And it sounded like the two gunshots. I made eye contact with my teacher and almost burst into tears. Because after December 13, I’ve been weak, and the slightest touch or sound will set me off.

You never think you’ll go through something like this, but when you do, you don’t understand how fragile this will make you. For clarity, I’m not excusing Karl’s actions or anyone else’s actions like this. Because I searched TJ Lane on Instagram and all I found were “my #mcm, he’s a killer but he’s a hot one” and “ugh, why does he have to be in jail” and finally “#mcm he’s so hot, besides the killing part of course” and there are pictures of TJ Lane wearing his “killer” shirt with those captions. And it makes me sick how someone would idolize someone like that. What I’m trying to do is explain what I have been constantly thinking about.

And that is Karl and his family, and anyone else who had to do this to their school or local mall or theater. My heart still goes out to Claire’s family and friends, but my heart also goes out to the Pierson family because they lost their son and brother too. Just imagine, if people were respectful to one another, these people would be alive, and probably less bitter. The victims would be alive and the children who went through it wouldn’t be terrified. We don’t know why these things have to happen, but we do know one thing. We see one specific thing missing from every tragedy like this.

Love. These people weren’t given love, so instead they learned to hate.