The cover of my new book features a double-barrelled shot-gun. Even though the barrels are shaped like hearts and the guy toting it is wearing Cupid wings, there is still room for people to be upset by the mere appearance of a gun. Once someone writes me a nasty letter about it, I will unload both barrels: wit and sarcasm.
If readers have not guessed by now, I am a big fan of the First Amendment, and to try to prevent its erosion I figure that means I should be a big fan of the entire Bill of Rights, including Amendent Number 2. It comes from a conviction that acts of Congress or executive orders or judicial fiats that curb any of the amendments in our Bill of Rights, sets a precedent for curbing others.
Nevertheless, people being people, in the interest of widening my market appeal to the Gun Control crowd, I decided I should go ahead and run this article. The article itself is not cynical at all. It was first written after students were murdered at Northern Illinois University on Valentine's Day, 2008. It has gone through many re-writings and is now published for the first time. Since no humor can be found in such an event, this is not a funny article. However, it definitely comes from the voice and spirit of Dear Jon.
The article is timely in that students are making their back-to-school plans now, and campuses are gearing up for fall registration. Besides, once it is in Cyberspace it stays; so maybe it will save a life or a few.
Dear Jon's Open Letter to Homicidal Gun-slinging Sickos
If you are planning to take your revenge on humanity by shooting up a school campus, please please please do yourself a favor and read this first. I want to offer you 10 reasons to reconsider your plan and to think about other ways to cope with your anger and despair:
Top Ten Reasons Not to Commit Mass Murder on a College Campus
1. The people you are about to randomly murder are not the ones who hurt your feelings or got in the way of your ambition. They are just normal people under the same kind of pressures as you. And the thing is, when you hurt people who never did a thing to you, then you become exactly as evil and heartless as the people who DID hurt you. Except that you become worse, because those who were heartless to you did not kill you. So by randonly shooting strangers you become EVEN WORSE than the people you hate.
-If you were bullied you become the bully because you have a gun. Only you hate bullies, remember?
-If you were rejected in love you deprive those you murder of all chance at love, so you become worse than the person who rejected you.
-If people treated you shabbily for their own ambitions, you are treating these victims even more shabbily just so you can have a few hours of press coverage and infamy.
2. When a person only kills oneself, there are guilty feelngs and questions that come up from those around him. "Was there something I could have done?" they ask themselves. But if you murder other people first, no one is going to waste a tear for you. They will all be celebrating that you have gone straight to Hell.
3. You see, if you murder people who never did anything to you, you will go to Hell, and you will deserve to be there forever and all time.
4. God knows all about your pain; God knows that you have excellent reasons to be angry. If you choose to cope with your pain on God's terms so that you can be a constructive member of the human race, God will reward you with a much happier life on Earth and in Heaven. That is a secret you can keep and treasure; that is your freedom over the people who filled your life with pain. So if you die having coped on God's terms without murdering random people, then for all of forever you will be vindicated, you will be validated, you will be victorious.
5. Since God has all that waiting for you in Heaven, why should you betray God by hurting random people? Since you will have betrayed God, what other choice would God have but to send you to Hell?
6. Are you the only person in the world whose feelings have been hurt, or whose ambitions have been frustrated? Is it possible that the Sudanese boy whose arm was severed by a machete, or the Nepalese girl sold into slavery, might have problems as big as yours? What if you were to take your anger and channel it into something constructive, like helping other people who have been hurt? Hint: Murdering college students won't get that done. If you murder students in school you become just another monster in a world that has too many already.
7. Instead you can give yourself a cause. You can show that you are bigger than the institution that ignored you, bigger than the woman that scorned you, bigger than the bully that swirlied you, when you volunteer at a soup kitchen or run a bus service on behalf of a shelter for battered women.
8. If random violence solves problems, why aren't terrorists winning? If you take up that gun and invade a campus and kill strangers, you become a terrorist; a pscyho with a world-view limited to your own tortured sense of self. But terrorists aren't winning. Economies continue to expand, the world continues to shrink, planes continue to fly, schools continue to level the field of opportunity by bringing literacy and skills to broader and broader populations.
9. You think shooting a few strangers will make a statement: Of what? That life is cruel and unfair? The rest of us have that picture already. The only statement that your random violence would make is that you are a sick person who was both too evil and too stupid to get help and learn to become a constructive, coping citizen of humanity.
10. People are hurt and angry and they cope, all the time. Coping is what makes a person a citizen of humanity. You have no idea the people that will be the targets of your blind terrorist homicide. You don't know if the young woman you murder is a sweet person who may have been abused as a child and experienced her own redemption from pain. You don't know if she is obtaining a degree in Sociology so that she can find a way to help other girls, especially through an international organization like CARE where she is scheduled to take her internship. You don't know any of that, and you would let your bullets end all of that, because she is coping with her pain and you are not. Why not seek the help you need so that you can learn to cope constructively with your pain like so many millions of other people, people we call "normal" rather than "sick homicidal creeps."
So if you have read this far and you feel prompted to call a campus crisis center or suicide hot-line for real help, please get to a phone and make that call. That person on the other end probably went to college, and is wanting to make a positive difference in the world by helping you.
|PO BOOKS BY DEAR JON
Dear Jon Letters: Tips for Dating and Mating
Published July 21, 2008
Our advice humorist turns his attention and trademark wit to affairs of the heart in his first and very affordable book (only $8.95!).
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.
A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.