Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dear Peter,

I have so many emotions toward you, and I'm not 100 percent how I feel yet; but the more I hear your side of the story, the more I feel bad for you. You killed TEN people. You killed ten kids; ten of your peers; ten daughters and/or sons. You brutally, thought-out, plainly killed people. Their mothers and fathers will never hold them again; they'll never see them smile; they'll never hear them laugh; they'll never see them graduate and grow up into the adults they were supposed to be.

Yet, I'm feeling sorry for you. Of course I have empathy for the families that were impacted by your shooting. Of course I think what you did was wrong. Of course I find it terrible and disgusting, and don't understand why you chose to do what you did. But, I still feel sorry for you.

The truth is, yes you killed those kids. But honestly, those kids were just as much responsible as you were. I realize most everyone in the world will disagree with me. I realize people will think I am crazy and insensitive and just a huge jerk. But honestly, bullying is not something to be taken lightly. Your lawyer compares it to the Battered Wife Syndrome, and he's totally on to something. There's a point where you just can't take it any more. There's a point where they break you down so much, you will do anything to make it stop.

Our society has this sick view that we should be fixing the bullied; when in reality we should be fixing the bullies. For kids to get away with tearing down their peers, for shoving kids into lockers, for judging their choices--it's just not right. Yet, we think that if the bullied kid will just stick up for himself, or get better clothes, or wear a different backpack things will get better. No. That's only potentially fixing one half of the problem. What about the kids with mean hearts? What about the kids who only care about themselves? What about the kids who are tormenting, and picking on, and being barbarians toward their schoolmates? What happens to them? In a lot of cases: nothing.

That's not to say punishments are not forced; and it's not to say that teachers, principals, and parents are not trying to turn these bullies in a different direction. I sincerely think a lot of them are. However, they weren't in your case. And, you broke.

I think that's why I feel so much empathy for you. You were broken. You were beaten down and defeated. You were like a battered wife; if you didn't get out, you were going to die. Maybe metaphorically, maybe literally. And that's why I can't help but "side" with you. Have you ever heard the phrase "I love you, but I don't love what you're doing"? I think that's how I feel. I in no way condone your behavior; but in a weird way I understand it.

You are a broken, lost, scared person. You are lonely. You are tired. You are sad. But most of all, you're mad. And you have every right to be.

You remind me of my own son. Not that he's lost or broken or sad; he's only one, so he's on top of the world. But you remind me that I need to love him, I need to show him that I love him, I need to support him, and I need to defend him. I don't want him to toss my letters aside, I don't want him to dread seeing me, I don't ever want him to think I would prefer he weren't around. And I'm sorry you were never able to get that from your mother.

So while I'm not going to be cheering for the defense, I just wanted you to know that there is someone out there who doesn't hate you; there's someone out there who doesn't think you're a monster. You're not a monster. You need help, and you need attention, and you need love.

And I'm so sorry you never got any of that.

Understandingly yours,