Be More Empathetic, Be More Sympathetic

We as a population need to get better. Better in every aspect of course, but we need to focus on being better in the way we treat people. The recent Olathe East High School shooting, where Olathe East’s school resource officer and principal were shot, is perfect example of why we should be better to the people around us.I’m not defending the actions of Jaylon Elmore, the Olathe East shooter. His actions are unforgivable, and his intentions were most likely worse than his actions. I, and most people, will never forgive him or anyone with the intentions of shooting up a school. However, I do think it’s important to note what drove him to that “solution.” I use the word solution because that’s clearly what he thought. His only answer, the only right thing to do, his only solution, was to attack the people at his school.

Although no one can say for sure what drove Elmore to his “solution,” according to an article hosted on VISTAS Online Knowledge Center, 87% of school shooting perpetrators showed some signs that they were victims of severe bullying. 98% of attackers experienced a personal loss prior to the attack. 61% of school shooters carried out their attacks to get revenge. 81% had grievances against another person at the time of their attacks. I’ll allow you to decide what drove Elmore to his “solution.” But no matter what conclusion you come too, there is a trend.What do all these statistics have in common? People. Bullying, personal loss, revenge, grievances, all relationships between people. So maybe treat people better. And not because you “don’t want to turn someone into a school shooter,” but out of the goodness of your heart. It feels good to be nice to people. It also feels good to bring someone up. If someone is having a problem reach out and make sure they don’t feel alone.What’s kind of ironic, is how alone we can feel once our school has been put under a lock down. Suddenly the tables have been turned and we have nowhere to go. We feel as if there is no hope. We feel desperate.Thursday, March 3, Oak Park had a false lockdown. A robotic voice sounded over the intercom, followed by a sudden staggering of slamming doors. Some people in my class began sobbing, some people froze up, there were some reactions in between. My teacher at the time stood near the closed door, hand on her chest, in a state of absolute shock. Everyone was totally and entirely in that moment, waiting to see what was going to happen next. Suddenly, a shaken-up assistant principal came over the speaker, announcing to the school that someone had fat fingered the school lock down button.Although the false alarm probably lasted less than a minute, after the fact a collective sigh of relief could be heard across the entire school. Oak Park was lucky that someone had only mis-pressed a button… Olathe East was not so lucky. Oak Park’s lockdown had happened the day before the shooting at Olathe East. The emotions in Oak Park were strong in that moment, I can only imagine how the students and teachers of Olathe East felt for 2+ hours. It’s absolutely insane that students and parents worry about their safety at school.

If you take just one thing from this story, be more empathetic, be more sympathetic, think about how your actions affect people. It could make or break someone’s day. Think about how pulling that trigger could affect someone’s life. Let’s make our communities a better place and bring more positivity. No one should feel trapped, hopeless, or alone. No one should be in a position where they feel like their only solution is to take innocent lives. No one should be taking innocent lives period.