I am forwarding a letter I e-mailed to my family the night of the school
shooting in Oregon for two reasons: First, I could not help but see that in
all the recent shootings by kids, the common denominator seems to be grtf
schools. They didn't open fire at a party, fast food restaurant or
basketball game. They did it at school during school. They "went Postal"
(i.e.: US postal employee shootings), I believe, and expressed at least part
of their rage at the institution. Second, my Oregon Family suggested I
share this letter in any forum, and you are people who not only care deeply
about kids but also understand some of the principal reasons why kids are
losing their minds. The letter is unedited.
Date: Fri, 22 May 1998 03:46:18
>From: sandra murphy <email@example.com>
>Subject: shooting in Oregon
>I want to extend support and a sense of shared sadness to everyone and
especially to the Oregon Crew regarding the school shooting there today.
After I heard the news and location and after my heart resumed some
semblance of sinus rhythm, I did a cursory mental inventory of Eugene and
Roseburg family and couldn't think of anyone who should have been at that
high school today, thank god.
>As I listened to the news, there were a hundred frenetic debates all over
TV land with everyone tripping over themselves trying to either appoint
blame or legislate solutions. It occurred to me that, after the recent rash
of shootings in schools and the other two incidents which occurred as well
(the boy who grabbed his girlfriend off the bus and then shot himself in the
head, and the girl who was shot in the leg during science class because the
kid next to her had a pistol in his backback and it went off), that it is
not all that big a mystery why these kids are going crazy. It is _not_
because they have access to guns: millions of kids have had access to guns
for centuries and didn't take them to school and shoot people. It is _not_
because their schools failed to install metal detectors. It is _not_
because they weren't popular enough or failed a test or are "Just rotten
kids" or any of the other inane reasons being put forth.
>I was in a public place when the news of today's shooting came on and
watched three adults gape open mouthed, wagging their heads gently back and
forth. Their expressions seemed something like, "I just do not understand
this. I feel like I am from another planet: my paradigm renders this simply
OUT of my comprehension, and no matter how hard I try, I will never
understand this. These are our children - WHY are they murdering each
>I wanted to say to them, these kids are shooting people because they are
ANGRY and in so much pain that they haven't a clue how to cope. Up until
now, when kids were in this much pain they turned it inward and hurt
themselves. Three of my high school classmates hanged themselves. I
understand that kind of anger, although I never went that far. But I know
what that kind of rage and despair and helplessness and pain in a teenager
feels like. And, given the exponentially increasing aggressive popular
culture, it does not surprise me in the least what these kids are doing.
Just to be clear, I DO NOT CONDONE FOR A MINUTE what they have done, nor is
it possible to overstate the pain of the victims and their families. I am
simply trying to share my take on the "Why". This is not a "cry for help" ,
it is a desperate attempt to save themselves, to fight back: they are
fighting to hang onto their existence in the only way they can. They have
been abused and debased in a hundred different ways, and feel that there is
no one in the world they can trust and who will help them. They feel backed
up against the wall with more pain coming, and NO WAY OUT.
>Years ago, it used to baffle me how there were all these Murphy Clan
teenagers who were not Backed Up Against the Wall trying to choose between
having a life and having a soul. Not that everything is always hunky dory
by any means, but I mean not UP AGAINST IT for their survival. And that is
because we believe, down to our toes, the core premises that, no matter what:
>Babies are always welcome.
>Children are always cherished.
>Adults are allowed to make mistakes.
>It's OK to get mad, but it's not OK to STAY mad.
>No matter what your age, you will be treated with respect and dignity.
>Love one another.