A Tribe’s Tragedy

29 Oct 2014

10/26/14

A Tribe’s Tragedy

I don’t consider myself an expert on Native American culture, but I do know how closely knit a tribe is. Each person is important as an individual, but also as a part of the fabric of the tribe as a whole.
So the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School was a triple assault on the Tulalip Tribe, to which three of the six teens were members. When it is stated that the tribe asks for privacy and time to heal, think of it as a family that has had an unexpected tragedy. For that is what it is. The three young men were family in blood (cousins) and in tribe. Try to imagine what it would feel like if this happened in your family, immediate and extended. The shock. The grief. The questions: How? Why? What could we have done? What should we have done? What do we do now?
The tribe will draw itself in tighter, to protect and administer spiritual healing to the “families” of these boys. It seems far removed from the East Coast and Virginia, but they could be our next-door neighbors or friends. Pray for them in their loss, their grief, and their confusion.

BAMorris

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10/27/14

What If You Told the Truth And No One Heard

Repeatedly the news report that shooters had been posting “disturbing” statements on the internet for weeks or months prior to their shooting. If this is true, how come no one knew they were heading over the edge?
Here’s what I think. In the past an emotionally unstable person told someone something that felt wrong to the listener. They may have given away possessions. They may have talked of harming themselves or had an obsession with a particular type of weapon. They may have expressed irrational levels of anger at someone or a group of people. Anyone who has worked in mental health, on a crisis hotline, or in social work (and educators as well), should remember the warning signs we were taught to look for. But those rules don’t work anymore.
Today’s youth use the internet as their “talk” about the ideations they have of suicide and murder. They express their unbalance in posts and tweets and rambling blogs. Unlike the person who says to your face, “I sometimes think about hurting X and Y,” saying something similar on the internet feels different. Seeing a boy grind his teeth, clench his fists, and raise his voice in anger, makes one say, “Wow! He’s really upset. I need to do something/get someone to help him deal with this.” On the internet, all you see are words. “Yeah, he’s upset but he’ll get over it.” Or even worse, no one at all reads what was written. That has to be the ultimate blow; that you reach out in the only way you know, and no one reaches back.
So, although these children give the signs that they might do something irrational, no one reads them correctly. People say, “But he put stuff on the internet that should have alerted authorities before he became a murderer.” True. But what if no one saw it until he HAD become a murderer. Then it was too late.

BAMorris

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Lock the Doors

27 Oct 2014

10/26/14

Lock the Doors

What would happen if all the businesses in this country shut and locked their doors on Thanksgiving day? What would happen if all the owners and managers decided to spend the day with their families, and let their employees do the same? What would happen?
The world would not come to an end. The dollars lost wouldn’t be in some other business’ till: they’d be in the people’s pockets waiting to be spent the day after Thanksgiving. Families might reconnect. Individuals might take a minute to count their blessings, and be thankful for what they do have.
For twenty-four hours there would be no knock-down-drag-out fighting to get a bargain. For twenty-four hours turkey would rein and everyone would feel comfortably drowsy from tryptophan. For twenty-four hours no one would have to be too tired to smile at their children, to hug their significant other, to treat themselves with love. For twenty-four hours people could count their blessing instead of focusing on what they don’t have.
If only we’d remember why we had a Thanksgiving in the first place.

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Indian Fall

27 Oct 2014

10/27/14

Indian Fall

It’s hard to believe
It’s snowing somewhere.
Our turn is coming.
A matter of time.
The bright sunshine will
Give way to the cold;
To icy windshields;
And dark, dreary skies.
This last summer gift
Will be in the past.
Winter will settle
In and freeze our bones.

BAMorris

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October 27

27 Oct 2014

10/27/14

October 27

Bright balmy days
Of Indian
Summer.
Golden leaves dance.
Scarlet splashes
Across
Every wood’s line.
Brief time before
The frost.

BAMorris

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10/25/04
Marysville-Pilchuck High School

Another school shooting. I’m afraid most people shake their heads, say, “It’s horrible;” ask rhetorically what is wrong with these kids; and go about their business.
I, however, cannot walk away from it like that. Every time someone enters a school and takes a life, be it adult or student, it is as if someone walked in my front door, stalked through my house and shot members of my family. All schools are my home. When the sanctity of a place of education is assaulted, it rips my souls apart. I take it very personally. I think, But by the grace of God, it could have been my school.
So what went wrong with this particular young man? By all appearances he was an exemplary young person. Prince on the Homecoming court. A member of the football team. Rewards most of the school population never attain. Well known and well liked.
However, something within his being, his heart and soul, was wrong. Something tortured him. For you don’t try to take five other lives if life is giving you what you need. You certainly don’t give up your own life unless you are supremely unhappy.
With every shooting I hear about, I wait eagerly to hear the background information, the WHY if you will. I need to know what warp in the psyche caused someone to play an angry God. I used to look for signs in the shooter that I might see reflected in one of my own students, and pray I could turn the tide before I would become an actor in some macabre homicidal drama on my own life’s stage. Now I keep hoping someone, somewhere will hear the story and say, “Oh! I know someone like that.” And reach out to that person in their life and give them a reason to live, not be the hand of death. I keep hoping there will be a magic formula to help young people make it through their hell back to a healthy living. I keep praying for a key for all of us.

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Evil Within

16 Oct 2014

10/12/14

Evil Within

Evil is cancerous cell.
It turns rogue, begins to grow.
Turns health to poisonous hell.
Strikes conscious a death blow.

He may have coached your children.
Helped out your aging mother.
Worshipped at your church. Amen!
At the job with your brother.

Like a vampire seeking blood.
Like a werewolf at full moon.
Zombies rising from the mud.
This man plays his deadly tune.

And all the time in his heart
There was a growing disease.
Waiting for next hunt to start.
Seeking a new girl to seize.

The hunger inside growing.
Predator needs its feeding.
New victims must be coming.
Can only have one ending.

Family cannot believe.
This is not the boy they knew!
Friends shake heads; cannot conceive.
That this story can be true.

It is impossible to see
The monster inside a mind.
Someone just like you and me.
Neighbor. Friend. Humankind.

BAMorris

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What Do You Do?

16 Oct 2014

10/13/14

What Do You Do?

What do you do
When no one listens?
What do you do
When no one cares?
When people treat you
As if you’re not
Even there.
There’s no thought
Of what you feel,
Or what you think.
It’s as if you
Are a mere shadow
On the wall of life.
What can you do
When you discover
Your life’s being planned
For you?
When you think you’re
Stepping forward
But you’re really
Moving back.
What do you do
When life ignores you?
Come up fighting.
You certainly
Don’t give up!

BAMorris

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I Don’t Like It!

15 Oct 2014

10/13/14

I Don’t Like It!

Winter is coming,
And I don’t like it!
Don’t like the extra
Layer in morning;
That it’s dark outside
When walk the dog,
And it’s dark at dinner;
That soon the freezing
Rain and sleet will come,
And behind it snow
That will make walking
A master effort;
That sun, when it comes,
Won’t feel warm at all;
Days will march forward
Gray, dreary, timeless,
Mere short specks of light;
That I will grow to
Be sedentary,
Lethargic, fattened
Like a sleepy bear;
That the trees will rain
Down their leaves like tears,
Leaving them bare naked,
Then silently sleep;
That all that was warm
And good and alive
Is over for now.
Winter is coming.
And I don’t like it!

BAMorris

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To Heat or Not

13 Oct 2014

10/6/14

To Heat or Not

I’m sitting in the house trying to decide if it’s really cold enough to turn on the heat. Sixty years ago that wasn’t an option.
In my childhood, we heated our house with a wood stove. I remember my mother waking me and telling me to get ready for school. She would have been up for half an hour or more. When she rose, the house was close to the same temperature as the air outside. She’d had to build a fire in the stove in the kitchen in order to cook breakfast. By the time she woke me, coffee water would be boiling in the percolator, and bacon would be frying in a pan on the stove. She laid my clothes for the day on the bed. Do you know how difficult it is to take off a night gown, put on a slip, blouse (and button it correctly), and skirt, all under the covers? I’d have to get out of my warm cocoon and face the cold air eventually, but I’d try to conserve the heat my body had created under the quilts as long as possible.
In the kitchen I’d hug the stove. Wood heat warms wonderfully, but there’s one problem. While one side of your body is toasted, the other side is freezing. So I had to rotate continuously like a pig being roasted on a spit.
When we went to visit my grandmother, we slept upstairs where there no heat. I’d get toasty warm in the downstairs, run up the stairs, strip off my warm clothes and put on my night gown, and jump into bed. What a shock to hit those icy cold sheets! But in a few minutes a place around me thawed and warmed from my body’s heat. My mother would crawl in beside me, and Grannie, wrapped in a sweater and her coat, would pull up a chair and they’d talk a while before they said good-night. I always fell asleep to the sound of their voices.
After I started teaching, my students would come to school on a day when the temperature outside was at freezing, and tell me they were cold. Of course they were! After they took off their coats, they were just wearing a thin tee shirt. My childhood was governed by summer clothes and winter clothes. I knew when to put on heavier clothing to stay warm. My students often didn’t. When I would say, “Wear a sweatshirt to school when it’s cold!” my students would look at me like I was crazy. “It’s January! The middle of winter, so dress for the weather!” I’d say.
So back to my decision. The sun is out and the temperature is going to rise throughout the day. So I decided I didn’t need the heat on just yet.

BAMorris

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