Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Solemn Anniversary

It was twenty years ago today that Marc Lepine walked into  a classroom at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal. He separated the male students from the female students, and in the space of forty-five minutes, moving from classroom to classroom, he shot twenty-four women and four men. Then he killed himself. Of the twenty-four women, fourteen died.

(For news coverage of the event, click here.)

During his rampage, Lepine screamed "I hate feminists."

In the years since what has come to be called the Montreal Massacre, debate has flourished -- and continues to flourish -- as to the nature of Lepine's crime.  Was it symptomatic of a pervasive misogyny in Canadian society, or was it the isolated act of a deranged man? Will stricter gun control laws prevent a recurrence? Will relaxation of gun control precipitate more such tragic events?

I remember that day. I remember the feelings of sorrow and fear, anger and despair that overwhelmed me as I watched the news coverage. We Canadians like to think we live in a peaceful country where tragedies like the Montreal Massacre simply do not happen. The anniversaries, when we stop to look back at that day in 1989, are stark reminders that we have no special protection.

I saw a sign recently that read "Peace is not something you ask for; it is something you make."  As I reflect on the events of December 6, 1989, I feel the old fear, the old anger, the old despair again. I'm trying to keep that sign in the front of my mind, because all I can do, all anyone can do, is live my own life as peacefully as I know how.

9 comments:

Sara Williams said...

I like that sign, its so right.

I think the chap in question must have been off his head. Anyone who can kill a living creature is beyond redemption.

Try to work the anger out of your system. It is a negative emotion and will turn inwards.

Peace be with you x

Bagman and Butler said...

I think Sara has it right. Something goes terribly wrong inside the brains of people who kill like that. And holding on to anger is like taking poison and waiting for someone else to die.

Barry said...

It is shocking to realize how many years have passed. My memory of the news story is so vivid it seems like it happened only last year or the year before. Those young women have now been dead as long as they lived. By now they would have been in their 40's, and think of all the engineering marvels they would have helped to create.

Chef E said...

Ditto, and a 'Wow', as I came over to see what my writing friend is up too...

Sandra Leigh said...

Good morning, Sara, B&B. You are right. Hanging on to anger doesn't help -- but I think it is important to remember what happened, and to try to make a world in which it doesn't happen again -- one day at a time.

Barry, I know. What a terrible waste.

Chef E, I promise that tonight's post will be much cheerier!

John Hayes said...

That's all we can do--that & remember, & help others to remember. Those are important, too. That doesn't mean holding on to anger in an unproductive way, simply using the emotion for the positive.

Karen said...

I understand exactly what you're saying, Sandra. As a school person, I had not been able to read about the Columbine school massacre because it is too real for me, until recently, when I read Wally Lamb's fictionalized account (The Hour I First Believed). Even all these years later, I am sickened at what we humans do to one another.

AngelMay said...

It's very interesting, this idea, Sandra. I find that as I get older and older I crave peace more than almost anything else. There is so much beauty out there in the world if we will open our eyes to see. And so much beauty in each other if we can (will) put aside our prejudices with regard to skin color, ethnicity, religion, and a whole host of other "dividers."

Dominic Rivron said...

A poignant post. The sign you read reminds me of something Nelson Mandela said: "You don't make peace by talking to your friends; you have to make peace with your enemies."

Blog Archive