The Times, They Are A-Changin…

Or have they?

It ain’t easy being a twenty-something, never has been and it never will be. Whether you’re 20 or 29 it’s the same story… Well maybe not so much after graduation from university and into the “real world” so to speak. But the point remains: it ain’t easy being there or getting there. Not only are we unfairly stigmatized and stereotyped by previous generations (which deserves its own column of discussion) for being selfish, self-centred, self-serving and lazy, but for those of us who actually are trying to change the world for the better by seeking and obtaining a higher level of education, now more than ever we are at risk of dying because of it.

I am speaking of the recent shooting terrorist act that occurred in downtown Montreal’s Dawson College that left one lovely girl dead and 2 more in the ICU, status unclear, and many more wounded physically, mentally and emotionally. I don’t care what the authorities say; it WAS a terrorist act, as terrorism’s primary goal is to promote terror. The fact that it was at a school; a place of higher learning, of education, of wanting and needing to better ourselves through the wisdom of others, be it from professors, friends or strangers in the hallway simply blows my mind. Maybe I have been away from the USA too long, but regardless of my present geographic proximity, I don’t think it is right at ALL to feel petrified coming and going to my classes day in and day out.

The shooter, a 26 year supposed “normal-but” kid, apparently had no rhyme or reason for his actions; he just came in and did as he pleased without concern for anyone… Not even his family, not even himself. There were no warning signs… Outwardly. So then I ask, what the fuck happened? We could go back and forth, as many authority figures do when circumstances like this come up, about the different so called “causes” of this behaviour. Violent video games and television programs, isolation, poor adaptation skills, feelings of inadequacy and being an out-cast… All of which are interesting theories but don’t really divulge into the true nature, the core of this persons ‘reasons’ for shooting random strangers. It would be ignorant to suggest that this 20 something was brainwashed by society; that he and others are simply unthinking sponges soaking up whatever is thrown our way, indiscernible, unchallenging, submissively, like some sort of robot or hybrid. Now, if anyone reading this knows a 20 something… We’re NOT like that. At least, not the 20 somethings that I know.

At the same time Dawson College has made me re-think how well I really know people. I have been surprised on more than one occasion at the true character of people I thought I knew well; the best example being my ex “Philipe” who turned out to be a compulsive liar to everyone, even his family, and was nothing near to what he proclaimed to be. Granted my case is less extreme, as I am sitting here typing this out, but the end result was still the same; he left me with a sense of ‘trust no one’ and Dawson College is another step in solidifying that belief. If everyone close to the shooter, family included, was ‘surprised’ at his senseless act of violence, then what chance to the rest of us have? I mean, seriously! What the fuck is so bad in anyones life that the only solution to that problem is killing innocent strangers?? Maybe I’m a bit dated, but my idea of college/university life was not wandering the hallways wondering which one of these people will snap today, or I wonder where he/she is hiding that weapon?

So what is the solution? Tighter restrictions? Zero-tolerance policies? Disciplining those damn kids? While these measure seem to be winning the battle in the States, I am not sure if they are winning the war of prevention, which one ounce is worth a pound of cure. In my experience, and this is neither fact nor a theory, just my opinion… When restrictions are placed and they are rigid, unforgiving and unexplained… things have a tendency to get worse, but not on the outside. Feelings of oppression, anger and just being really pissed off festers within until one day it explodes out and more often than not, onto someone undeserving of that rage really meant for someone else. It’s the equivalent of an overbearing and controlling parent or spouse in your life, except this one can throw you in jail and convict you of God knows what.

So what happens? Those charged with keeping us safe will have to enforce tighter laws and take away some of our freedoms in order to secure our safety. That may mean a bigger presence of Protection on campus, more police cruisers in student ghettos, more tickets being handed out for disorderly conduct and public intoxication, and random search-and-seizures of personal belongings that may or may not be considered a weapon. Thinking this through I can’t help but wonder, is this the new and up-coming face of a 20 somethings, or to be fair, a late teens campus life?

College and University is, among other things, our last stop as 20 somethings in life until we reach so-called ‘adult-status’; where marriages, mortgages, kids and mini-vans begin to dominate our life. It is our last hurrah of acting our age with total freedom from true responsibilities to have the time of our lives. I must admit I am sad to see our age of innocence disappear in the same amount of time it took for those bullets to hit those poor students (who are in all of our thoughts and prayers) but at the same time I have to understand that things have changed. As much as I enjoy my freedom, I also do not want to spend my last few years wondering if someone wants to live out a live version of duck hunt, using my friends or myself as targets.

I write this a few days after the incident, but at this time it still feels so surreal, like a game… Except in real life there is no re-set button we can press to try it all over again.

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~ by Carrie on September 17, 2006.

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