First we let them die inside

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
Spree killings are preventable. Love and relationship is better than neglect, abuse and rejection.

Submitted: January 01, 2008

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Submitted: January 01, 2008



First we let them die inside

He died before the first shot was ever fired –
And then he took up a gun -

Gun to his head and his number was 1.

How do you stand in another’s mind?
I’m not really sure that you can.

Gun to her head and her number was 2.

You can profile them-
but that is too clinical,
merely a convenient pigeon-hole –
sterile and distant –
in which you deposit them.

Did his guardian’s duty, his number was 3.

You can read their emails
and web pages afterwards,
but you’ve only touched a persona,
not their true heart -
and personas are delusional.

Shooting in hallways, students start dying.

You can write them off as
the drugged off-scourings of our age.
You label them – ‘psychopath’ perhaps –
allowing you to click your tongue
self-righteously –
and then forget.

Shooting in classrooms, and a teacher dies too.

You can ‘walk a mile in their moccasins’ -
but that distance is ever too short -
and only serves to highlight
the differences between
‘us Natives’ and ‘you whites’.

The casualties growing.

You can cite Prozac over-availability,
or Reservation poverty,
abandonment by parents, and
multiple foster homes -
and still never understand his heart.

“Do you believe in God?”

You can wring your hands in
impotent pity,
turbulent emotions feel,
and make pious grieving statements
in the shocking aftermath.

Police respond quickly.

But none of these will put you
the mind of a child who kills
relatives and classmates
as proxies for those he blames.

Exchanges of fire.

How do you stand inside another’s mind?
I’m not really sure that you can.

Cornered and wounded - becomes his own victim.

But when I hear of a Native child
taking up a gun to kill
relatives and classmates
as proxies for his emptiness –
I appeal to you to build relationships
across your cultural divides,
stand against ‘benign neglect’,
and all the sin it hides,
and fill one life
at least
with self-respect and pride.

Otherwise we first let them die inside,
and then wonder why
begets death.

James Gagiikwe ? 2008
Author’s note: The Red Lake High School Massacre, occurred on Monday, March 21, 2005; in which a Native student at Red Lake High School on the Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation, Minnesota, killed 2 at home, 7 at shcool and injured seven others before committing suicide.

© Copyright 2017 James Gagiikwe. All rights reserved.

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