It took me awhile to get around to reading it. I had planned on returning it to the library without reading it as I wasn't sure I wanted to read about such a disturbing event. But I did pick it up the night before we left for vacation, since I had packed all my other books for vacation reading.
I read a few chapters before bed. Then, the next morning, I stuck it in my bag to take with me. I'm glad I did.
In April of 1999, I had a one-year-old and I would soon discover I was pregnant with our second child. I did not watch the news, but no one could have missed the news of two boys going into their high school and killing 13 people and injuring many more. I had not paid attention to details of the case, but figured it was like the other school shootings - outsiders taking their revenge.
According to Dave Cullen, nothing was further from the truth. In his book, Cullen details the day of the attack, profiles the killers, several of the victims and the principal of Columbine High School. He gathers information from many sources - including several interviews with victims, victims' families, agents and investigators at the scene and other community leaders.
What comes out is how different Columbine was from other school shootings, how Eric and Dylan had planned this event for over a year and skillfully let others in on their secret without giving themselves away. I was shaken by the anger these boys felt - Dylan against himself, Eric against everyone else. And by how well they hid their anger. To most everyone they came in contact with, they were typical teenage boys, dealing with typical teenage stuff.
In my book club this summer, we're reading Shepherding A Child's Heart by Ted Tripp, and I found myself evaluating these boys in light of that book. This paragraph especially struck me, as we had just discussed behavior modification as a form of parenting that doesn't work.
"[Eric's parents] worried about Eric suppressing his anger. They admitted that he would blow up now and then ... It didn't happen often, but they were concerned. Eric responded well to discipline. They had controlled his behavior, but how could they contain his moods?" (pg 218)Behavior modification controls behavior, but doesn't address the heart motivations of children. The fact is, they couldn't control Eric's moods - those were evidence of what was in his heart.
Which got me to thinking: I need to get to know my children as people, not just children. I need to talk with them, not just to them. And, I realize again that my children are their own people. They will make choices. Reading this book has driven me to my knees again, praying for wisdom and discernment when I interact with my kids and for them as they make choices for themselves - particularly their friends.
Columbine delves deep into the why of the attacks - showing again and again how Eric manipulated people around him, including his parents and other authority figures, and how once he decided to act, nothing was going to stop him. Dylan was always less committed to the plan - wanting to commit suicide more than kill others. But Eric needed a follower and Dylan needed a leader - a lethal combination which destroyed so many families, including their own.