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Dedicated to the victims and their families…Northern Illinois University school shooting

Below is a poem that I self-published in 1998, in response to the Jonesboro Public School massacre. Though the current situation at Northern Illinois University involves young adults and not children, I think some of the concerns – and demands for accountability – apply.

With love and concern,
Kimberly Wilder

P.S. For information and updates, including where to go for counseling, please go: here.

Jonesboro Public School Massacre

Four children and a teacher died.
Let us learn.

Let us force ourselves,
allow ourselves,
to measure, scrutinize, judge
the forces that influenced two young boys
to murder their peers.

Let us consider:

A school system called compulsory
pulling in younger and younger citizens of a free society.

An educational system dumping beings
as delicate and sacred as our children into the public domain-
with adversarial unions,
calculating insurance companies,
looming lawsuits,
the right to bear arms.

Let us measure:

A concept of professionalism
luring us in with status and money,
rewarding teachers and specialists
by crowning them
pawns of the marketplace,
rewarding our children by creating new
classes of adults
scurrying about them, not caring.

Let us weigh:

A concept of divorce
leaving troubled young boys
unsupported in distant cities.
a culture of divorce which makes it
embarrassing to celebrate Father’s Day in our classrooms.

Let us examine:

A culture of guns, more pervasive than philosophy:
rainbow colored action figures aiming at children in toy stores,
sociopathic gun lobbies,
leftover Klan hate,
television violence babysitting latchkey kids.
A culture more comfortable defending violence
than discussing its implications with their own children.

We do not need to show mercy to
government, the media, gun factories, institutions, or laws.
They are not human.
They should be evaluated, censured, vilified–
destroyed if necessary when they cause
pain and death.

We only have to forgive two young boys
ensnared in our web of catastrophe.

And as for the adults involved–
parents, teachers, judges, lobbyists,
(ourselves)–
we can learn from them, preach to them, argue with them,
blame them,
before we give them their due:
forgiveness, yes.
but, judgment, too.
by Kimberly I. Wilder
1998

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