Shortly after I posted about the school shooting in Saskatchewan, Canada, I read an online news release about the alleged shooter. The report said that the seventeen year old boy was bullied, quite extensively and considered an outcast and a loner. It appears that just like in the US, the social setting that drove him to commit his horrid act were present. Bullied, an outcast and made to feel inadequate are feelings that most bullying victims experience. Put them with the victim’s inward belief that no one is listening to them and access to guns and we see what the worst results could be.
Last week, there was a school shooting that left four people dead and seven people wounded. At the time, some may have asked, “Where in America now?” or “What state did it happen?” As most North Americans already know by now, the school shooting didn’t take place anywhere in the US, it happened in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Even though the shooting happened in Canada, it has some of the trademarks typical of a school shooting in America. The most scary of these is the fact that it took place in a small community where ‘things like this aren’t supposed to happen.’ There was also evidence that the seventeen year old boy who carried it out, had planned his rampage in advance, further evidenced by the fact that two of his victims were shot before the gunman got to the school. My point is that these tragedies have now expanded beyond the US borders and are now an international phenomenon. This is one US export I never wanted to see exported but sadly, my hopes were proven naive.
One thing that bothers me is the fact that I only learned about the shooting from the internet. While I don’t read many newspapers here in the UK, I didn’t find any who mentioned the tragedy. However, I can’t help thinking that it would have been different if it had actually occurred in the US. I won’t go on about it because I posted a rant elsewhere but if you want to read it, here’s the link: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewblog.asp?blogid=73391&AuthorID=151208
Under Canadian law, the identity of the shooter will not be released do to his age but he has been charged with four counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. Furthermore, there haven’t been details or speculation released as to why this might have happened. For all know, he could have been a Canadian version of my main character in my book, “He Was Weird.” We’ll have to wait for more details.
The other topic of interest arising from the shooting is guns. Having watched Michael Moore’s film, “Bowling for Columbine,” I know that there are just as many guns in Canada as the US. Some will argue that now Canadians should toughen up their gun laws or ban them outright. Maybe this is a knee jerk reaction, but at least in Canada, I think the issue will be debated with less hostility.
Like with everyone who hears about tragic, needless deaths, my heart goes out to those effected by it. I hope that now that the issue has truly gone beyond America, proper debate can take place and we can go some way to doing away with such tragedies in the future.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453839376&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
Since I have been working with adults whose Asperger’s Syndrome does not allow them to live without guidance and support, there have been two clients, one whom I work with on a regular basis, the other only few occasions, who resent God for afflicting them with Asperger’s Syndrome. The latter of the two has been known to lash out at God for doing so, while the former believes that once he’s ‘up there,’ God will take away all of his afflictions. Listening to both of them has made me reflect back on my life and remember that I felt the same way at times, especially in my youth.
The first time I questioned why God made me the way I am was in my teens. I seemed to be going through a patch where nothing went right for me. In fact, things got to the point where I concluded that the reason why God created me was that so the world could have a laugh at my expense. Believe me, it’s not very fun when you’re the one getting laughed at. I called out to God in prayer to help sort out my human weaknesses, which I believed God had given me too many of. Unfortunately, my prayers went unanswered for the most part. Sure there were periods when things went right but usually, they were followed by a great crash. My self esteem was very low although bible verses about false pride also flashed in my mind and that didn’t help. This led to my decision to join the marines after high school because I believed that the marines were going to correct all of the Lord’s mistakes.
Now some of you may be asking why didn’t I seek out help from the pastor or other church leaders. Well, after one particular dramatic blow up, my mother sent me to speak to a pastor at the local mission. That helped momentarily but one session was not enough. For the most part, I kept my feelings to myself because I thought that church leaders had more important things to do than to listen to my petty problems. Besides, most of the youth group considered me “weird” and I was afraid that if news of my problems leaked out, it would only confirm their thoughts. Another reason was someone, I couldn’t remember if it was a Sunday School teacher or another person in authority in the church, once said that a saying ‘that was the way God created me’ was a cop out. Therefore, I suffered in silence.
Like a said in a post many months ago, joining the Marine Corps didn’t solve my problems. They didn’t correct “God’s mistakes” but I changed in other ways. See, while in the service, I stopped trying to live for God because it never worked out for me anyway. When I left it, some of my so called Christian friends were quick to condemn me for being corrupted by the “evil heathens” which made up America’s military at the time. What they didn’t know was those seeds were planted long before I joined the marines. I even used the comeback that if God hadn’t given me so many weaknesses, I wouldn’t have had to join the marines.
A few years later, I did find something that answered the question a little when I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Mormons.) It is their belief that people with mental illnesses and other major weaknesses were given that challenge because they were valiant spirits during the war in heaven and therefore up to the challenge. In some cases, like people with profound difficulties, those spirits were put into those bodies to protect them from Satan who had vowed to get them when they came to Earth. For me, the Mormon explanation is the best one and while it made feel better about myself, it didn’t solve the problem. What has helped more and I agree with the LDS belief that God put these things on the Earth for our benefit, was counselling and various courses and sharing my experiences.
I still don’t know why God chose to make me the way I am. Maybe one explanation could be in “He Was Weird,” when the minister speaks at Mark’s funeral saying that God had great plans for Mark but Satan knew his potential as well and was why he heaped so much misery upon Mark. Of course, Mark’s experiences make one person in the story become an atheist because she states, “Why would God take someone like Mark, who only wanted to serve Him and allow him to go through so much pain?” As for me, if I get the chance, once I depart Earth, I will ask God why he made me this way. Hopefully then, I’ll have my answer.
To buy He Was Weird, go to http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453144961&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
While “He Was Weird” was set in modern times, the experiences which influenced me to write the story happened when I was growing up in the 1970s. The attitude towards bullying back then was basically to ignore it and carry on with the age on philosophy of blaming the victim. Parents, teachers and other officials were very reluctant and even unwilling to intervene in bullying and I think the best example to explain why is to use the film set in that time period, “Dazed and Confused.
The film is set in 1976 in Austin, Texas and the entire film takes place on the last day of school. In the early scenes of the movie, some of the students who will become seniors in the following September go out looking to haze students who will become freshmen then. Gangs of seniors find freshmen either alone or in very small groups and hold them down while each senior takes a turn hitting the freshman with a paddle. Now one would think that someone would step in and stop this practice, well they didn’t. The excuse used by many parents in the film, especially fathers, was that if they went to school authorities and stopped their son getting beaten with a paddle, the seniors would retaliate by doing worse things to that person and probably for a lot longer. The belief was to let the kid take a few whacks and get it over with, besides, it didn’t hurt that much. Of course, there was no consideration for how the victim might feel about it.
School officials were pretty much of the same philosophy. That worse things might happen to the victim if they intervened. After all, it was only a bit of harmless fun. Furthermore, as it happened after the last day of school, the school could easily play the ‘they’re not responsible’ card and get away with it. As for the police, even though this was a clear case of assault, they probably wouldn’t get involved unless it was the parents of some rich kid making a stink. In any case, the bury your head in the sand and ignore it approach was a clear victory for the bullies in the film and the 1970s. I don’t know if it still goes on anywhere today but Family Guy did base an episode on the film where Chris is beaten with paddles because he is a freshman.
I never got beaten with a paddle when I was a freshman, most of the bullying I had suffered was in junior high school and pretty much behind me. Although those experiences did keep my anxiety levels very high throughout high school. However, the attitudes by many of the adults were the same. Most, especially teachers, chose to bury their head in the sand while I was getting bullied and some even blamed me for being the victim. Schools and unfortunately my family at times, held the belief that if they intervened too much, worse things would happen to me. Therefore, most of the bullying went unpunished and that eventually led to it being unreported because I knew that if I did, nothing much would come of it. The 70s attitude toward bullying let me down immensely.
The scary thing was that those who have read “He Was Weird” and fed back to me on it, would not have known that the experiences drawn on to write it happened four decades earlier. The bullying was pretty much the same, except the cyber bullying that occurs in the story. I had no internet access back then. Another scary bit was from a scene in the book where Mark is bullied at the local shop. He looks to the store manager for help but the manager responds by saying, “You know you’re going to get picked on so why bother coming in here.” That was the classic 70s attitude but readers have accepted it as if it had happened in modern times. So, bullying hasn’t changed. It still goes on but what has changed is the way it’s viewed by adults and more are willing to step in and deal with it. However, there is still a long way to go.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452542391&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
Before the New Year, my last post was about me being in a mental minefield over not being invited out to a work’s Christmas party. First and foremost, I would like to thank the people who took the time to comment both on here and Facebook. All of the advice given was extremely appreciated and all was considered before making any decision.
Today, I acted on it. Returning to work at the club after the holidays, the manager and I were the first persons in this morning. I simply asked her who organized the night out before Christmas. She informed me that the night out wasn’t a Christmas party but a leaving do for someone who left just before the holidays. Digesting this new information, I informed the manager that I would have liked to have been invited and she seemed to agree that I should have been.
While that has cleared some things up for me, there are still some questions swirling around in my mind. This lady who was leaving and I had worked together quite a bit throughout the summer and it seemed we had a good working, professional relationship. To my knowledge, I have given her no reason to dislike me and that feeds the whirlpool in my mind. Did I say or do something to annoy her? I can’t think of anything but I know that in the past, I have offended people without actually meaning to. Therefore, that thought is in the back recesses of my brain and letting me know its presence.
What keeps those thought from coming forward is down to something else the manager said. When this colleague announced the night out, it was done in the presence of many of the ‘regular’ staff. I wasn’t present and because I am relief, inviting me was simply overlooked. While, I am ready to accept that it was a tiny mistake and not going to raise hell over it, I do think that after being with that club for eight years, I shouldn’t be over looked and be invited out as a member of the team. In this instance, I will give the benefit of the doubt and believe that my not being invited was simply a mistake.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451936228&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
I couldn’t post on here yesterday because I had to work a 24 hour shift over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. But I would still like to wish all my readers a Happy New Year! I wish the best of success to everyone.
My New Year’s Resolution is to finally finish writing my third novel.
Happy New Year!