MAKING IT BETTER
Yet another mass shooting by a young person, and in a grade school at that! I am sad, but I am also angry at a culture that allows this to continue. And yes, I too am a part of all of this. Let us please have a serious conversation. Some will speak of gun control laws and that is a part of the equation; but this runs so much deeper, a societal problem, a dysfunctional way of thinking.
Our culture of accepting violence and killing affects our lives in so many ways: from condoned wars in far away places, to assassinations with drones, to video games full of death, destruction and decapitation, to extreme sports where people climb into cages and beat one another senseless, to movies and television that glorify violence.
What can I do to help in some small way to change the flow of this culture? I can have calm, thoughtful conversations, write my representatives requesting specific actions, refuse to support violent things, lead a slower, more purposeful life, join one of many local groups and work for peace, ask when anger rears itself inside me just what is truly bothering me, use humor to lighten moods and ease tensions, and create art that speaks to nonviolence.
I can purposefully use nonviolent communication in my everyday life, have compassion for those around me who are having a tough day, share my own struggles with manic/depression that it might make people be more at ease with mental health issues, become a teacher (not necessarily in a school), volunteer at a school, join a mentoring program, tell those I know that I love and appreciate them very much for all that they do.
Perhaps the best thing I can do might simply be a joyous example of a different way of living life in a kind and gentle manner. “The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention” — Amish wisdom.
Tim Boyden, Eugene
Camilla Mortensen’s report (12/20) on the use of a seclusion room and restraint of a child attending a 4J elementary school tells one side of the story. Anyone who has spent time in elementary schools knows that there are multiple stories that describe a child’s behaviors and different teachers’ responses over time. We heard from Jared and from his mother. We didn’t hear from Jared’s teachers or from the school principal. That’s understandable. Most educators shy away from discussing issues or incidents in the press that involve children who were once in their care. That’s part of the ethic of professionalism that goes with the job. But Ms. Mortensen also has a journalistic ethic to present more than one dimension to a complex relationship in a school setting.
Were there other levels of response from Jared’s teachers before they resorted to secluding him? How did Jared’s classmates feel during his episodes of misbehavior? Were some of his outbursts the result of peer dynamics at school? Did Jared receive any conflict management help from teachers? If so, how did he respond to their direction? One-sided reporting is good at pulling emotional strings, but it’s a poor substitute for good journalism.
Paul Bodin, Eugene
END ISOLATION ROOMS
Sunday morning I woke up and worked on scanning some of my old family photos onto my computer. Being lonely and nostalgic, I then wrote a bit in my journal. I spent some time thinking about my first grade class and the desk I had with walls. I drew a picture of the layout of the classroom to accompany my prior entries. Almost a third was taken up by a big closet where I would be placed if I ever disturbed the class. I have distinct memories of the teachers sitting on me in this closet.
I think often about my first grade class. Later that evening, I drove down to Cafe Yumm. I ordered a large Hot n Jazzy, grabbed a Weekly and read about Jared Harrison. This article [12/20] hit a bit too close to home. I am 37 years old and I can say from experience that childhood isolation leads to one single result: a lifelong feeling of isolation even around others.
I was staggered to read that this practice still happens today. This has to stop and it has to stop now. I beg every elementary parent to call their local school and demand that their child is never placed in isolation as a punishment.
Brian Doffing, Eugene
BUSINESS AS USUAL
The only shit to be found around the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza is that which blew out of [Lane County Administrator] Liane Richardson’s mouth — as usual.
Kevin Tatro, Eugene
A SHINING LIGHT
A merry band of volunteers showed up last Saturday [12/22] to clean and move most of the Lord Leebrick Theatre on Charnelton to its new space on Broadway. We had a tour by Artistic Director Craig Willis. This theater is going to be a stunner.
Many new eateries are opening in the downtown area and the new LLT on Broadway has got to be one of the prime reasons. Downtown is changing quickly now and the theater is a shining attraction, causing more people to spend more time (and money) in the area.
This will be the first purpose-built theater space Eugene has seen in years. At last, the quality of the space will match the quality of productions.
Dinner and a show, anyone?
Kim Kelly, Eugene
RESIST NORQUIST LIST
His stingy stand on taxes/ hurts the poor but clearly maxes/ the intake of the wealthy, outright.
He’s not even stealthy/ about his motives and aims/ the rich can’t invest, he claims/ and won’t employ/ unless they’re released/ from paying their fair share.
Pressuring reps to take a pledge/ to never vote for a tax: his wedge/ half the public … it’s pathetic/ got befuddled by his rhetoric.
I’d rather by a snake be kissed/ than signed by Norquist, for his list.
JeanMarie Purcell, Eugene
Many things about humanity trouble me these days. All of these public massacres, many of them by very young people, are troubling. Also, youth targeted pharmaceuticals of the past 20 years, as well as genetically modified organisms in seeds used to grow food for humans, over roughly the same time period, is distressing to me.
Makes me wonder if there is any connection between these last two instances of “chemistry gone Frankenstein” and our bizarre mass murders nowadays (obviously related to mental instability in the perpetrators).
Terry Heintz, Eugene
NRA IGNORES SAFETY
What if the NRA wasn’t reactionary and delusional and offering the solution to gun violence as: “What if those teachers had been armed?” and “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” How delusional and dangerous is that? What if the NRA wasn’t married to the gun industry? Hey, arm all the good guys and provide a policeman with a gun, or ex-Army volunteer, for every school. Hey, that’ll sell more guns. And what if they truly addressed the gun industry’s marketing of semi-automatic assault rifles. No mistake, the NRA does not have our safety at the top of their Christmas list.
I surely hope some of the saner and safer members of the NRA can see the forests through the trees, and withdraw their support of their own reactionary bad guys. I suppose I could cross my toes.
Marilyn Marcus, Eugene