I've developed a morning routine in one of my offices. I go in, put my stuff away, walk into the kitchen. Pour a cup of coffee into a plastic cup, then put ice cubes into my starbucks tumbler. Prepare my oatmeal. Pour the hot coffee into the iced cup. Take my oatmeal and my coffee to my desk. Read e-mails first, then read the news headlines before getting to work.
Today I was struck when I read that there was a school shooting in Ohio. Throughout the day I would refresh to get updates. My heart broke a little for the students and families affected. My heart especially hurt for the shooter himself. I read a few articles where other students mentioned things like they "weren't surprised" that "He would do something like this".
I'm sorry. Does this not disturb anyone else? If this kid appeared to be that damaged, did anyone try to step in and help him? Maybe they did, maybe he pushed them out, maybe people gave up. I just have a hard time dealing with the fact that there is a chance this kid just slipped through the cracks, that he was seen as the "quiet creepy kid", and no one bothered to ask him how is day was going or ask if he needed to talk about anything. To create an act of violence like this you are not in the right mind. He wasn't in the right mind. He was disturbed.
We had a couple kids at the high school where I worked who would fit the profile. Very quiet, kept their heads down, no smiles. Drew in class instead of writing notes. No friends. Sat in the corner of the bleachers staring at their feet. Any maybe it's just me and the way I am, but I was not afraid of them. Instead I made it my mission to talk to those kids. Give them an extra helping at lunch. Ask them to help me carry the juice cartons so they felt important and needed. Did anything I could to get them to crack. I remember the day one of the girls in this category said more than two works to me. I ran down the hallway to tell my friend. I was so excited. From that day on she would give me a wave and a smile in the hallways and she started showing up to my creative writing extracurricular. She still didn't say much, but she would write beautiful pieces of poetry and proudly turn them in. All because I kept asking her how her day was going. All because I noticed her.
I just want to encourage people to reach out to the quiet ones. Obviously you cannot give all of yourself to helping someone else, because you'll get burned out. But just try. Try to crack someone. Try to reach out. Try to get eye contact, try to get a smile. Just try. You never know the impact you can have on someone, you never know if you'll stop a tragedy from happening. Just from trying.
I'm adding something into my morning routine: pray. Pray for anyone dealing with such tragedies, and anyone who is so full of self hate and anger. And pray for all of us that we can reach out, notice each other, and try.
"we're one, but we're not the same. we get to carry each other"- u2