Letter: Accept the ones you’re with
December 27, 2013
I have never been one to believe in superstitions, but earlier this month, on Friday the 13th, my perspective changed on many things. Aspen High students gathered in the morning to participate in a moment of silence for the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, where 20 kids and six adults were tragically killed one winter morning.
As if this day weren't sad enough, another tragedy occurred, yet this one was closer to home. A senior at Arapahoe High school in Denver opened fire on the school, leaving one girl in a coma before taking his own life.
Students of Arapahoe High mourn with one another as they try to understand why someone would do such an abhorrent, horrible thing. Every student in America needs to realize that in order to prevent these school shootings, the answer isn't making laws on gun control; the answer is to create a community of acceptance.
It goes without saying that opening fire in a school because you have been bullied or ostracized is unethical, not the answer and extensive, but as students who are fortunate enough to go to school and have someone to sit with at lunch, we need to realize that bullying is a pressing issue in society that needs to stop.
Put yourself in the shoes of "Student A." Student A is a junior in high school who has been in the school district since kindergarten. Even after spending 13 years with the same students, Student A comes to school without being talked to once. Imagine going six hours every day without being talked to once. Student A experiences something much larger than bullying; he experiences invisibility. After Student A had lost all hopes in life, he started to plot to end things until Student B came along. Little does Student B know that just because he said "Hi" to Student A in the hallways, he saved his life.
Just because that dark-dressed kid in the corner with his head buried in a book looks scary, inside he could be a student just yearning to be accepted by someone. Inviting someone you see sitting alone at lunch to sit with you, or simply smiling at someone in the hallway, could make a difference. Nothing is more satisfying than the smile that grows on that kid's face when you acknowledge them when no one else does.
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The solution to putting an end to this shunning isn't for students to stop being themselves no matter how "weird" they may be; the solution is that students need to acknowledge that if we continue this behavior, our world will be filled with portentous people and no creativity from the "weird" people who are ignored and too scared to speak up.
So when we reflect upon these several shootings that have occurred in communities all around us, we all must learn to accept people for who they are and embrace the fact that we live in a society where people are different. Don't make Aspen the headline of the next school shooting — make Aspen the headline of what a real community should look like.
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