rs and OT,
I like the way this thread is growing. I may be a little out of my depth because I am parent to only one child, but I think a major change in parenting tactics at the time when the present generation of high school kids were babies may have contributed to the loss of community all over the US. Thinking about "pathogenesis" (how diseases or abnormalities are caused and how they evolve or worsen), may not necessarily lead to understanding but I will try anyway.
Brown's view, and that of the Ex-Columbine author I quoted, was that the Littleton/Columbine community lacked something essential. No one put a label on it so I will. Building community, like practicing ethics is a PROCESS not a PRODUCT. When Brown, said "[What community? It's a group of groups, not a single community. And things aren't pretty. People who seem the least bit different are shunned and picked on by the enforcers, the jocks, apparently. Brown said it was fearsome to walk the school halls daily, to hear the taunts and threats.]" in the same context that others stated all the achievement statistics for the school, I remembered what I thought when Roger Rosenblatt said "Gold Rush."
The communities set up for the gold rush were entirely "product" oriented. The people, gave up the depth and breadth of their involvement in communities to go to the gold-laden areas to focus on finding it and extracting it. Success as a human being and perceptions of happiness were measured in amounts of gold. Anyone that was "different" or interfered with the attainment of that objective (gold) was not welcome, and people took very direct and simple ways to remove these outsiders. They shot them.
If Littleton/Columbine is supposed to teach anything, what should it be? Focus on the process of being a member of humanity. No object, award, status, or location is so valuable to a person that it should cause him to forget why he is alive and being a human being. OT makes that point very well in her reply.
The business of shunning and taunting people who can't fit the preconceived mold of what it is to be correct and beautiful in today's society might have been related to this "Gold Rush" idea where the PRODUCT Littleton/Columbine wanted to turn out was over achieving, award winning, athletic, white superstars. In fact some of those interviewed said that they had moved to this "Overnight Community" in order to get away from the disorder they saw in cities where diversity of age, economic group, race, religion, health, and behavior frightened them. Rather than seeing that they had a role to participate constructively in that community they ran away from it to a place where all the other folks with those problems also ran.
Part of that goal directed behavior (running away from rather than dealing with situations) fit what had become a very competitive item in some of the parenting books that were published when Columbine kids and my daughter were babies.
Do you remember reading in the paper how parents were at war with each other trying to get their kids into the "RIGHT" day care center, pre-school, school etc. Parents who hadn't applied before the night of conception could expect that their "product" would not get in and the Harvard Letter Sweater would be lost. Toy stores and baby supply stores sold stuff to stimulate juniors brain. The school boards got nervous because our kids were falling behind the Japanese on uniform exams. It was time to refine the product.
Somewhere along the way, we forgot that "it is the process not the product." Kids learn ethics by participating in the process of growing up. When "Product-Oriented" parents and teachers are coaching them to do this and that to attain yet another position, award, status, they maybe miss learning the process. Well, we forgot about Harris and Kebold. Kebold was a guy who retreated into fantasy, similar fantasies as those of his buddie Harris. Harris, on the other hand, had experienced several failures to attain his product. He was turned down for the prom, he was turned down for the Marines, and he was an outsider who was some what shunned by even the black trench coat group. He had been so committed to his product that he failed to learn the process of ethical behavior. He hadn't formed any values that would speak to him in his mind and say it was wrong to think the horrible things he was thinking as he sawed off the shotgun and loaded the bombs. He clearly was not thinking "community."
Is this any different from the way things were when you were in high school on StatNisland?
Apart from the ready availability of guns, that is? Yes. Some people got the "product oriented" approach, but many of us were reared by parents who believed in the process. Learning values was more important than getting A's. Few of us ever expected to get to go to Harvard so our folks didn't do anything radical to make us go there. We were lucky because we got to go or not go because we wanted to and because we acted on those dreams.
Parents don't "respect" their kids when they "use" them as a means to attain something wanted primarily by the parents. Kids learn respect and values from their parents by their behavior not their words, so how can a product (a kid who has become an object because he has given into the product approach) act like a human? How can a "product" think like a human when he is faced with disappointments that he thinks he can handle through violence? I don't know the answers to this, but I am certain a lot of parents will be re-examining their relationships with their kids and the community as a result of this years experiences.
Take a look at the "Community Bridge" project in my community. There are lots of affirmations there that speak of real community.
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