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Explore the power of love
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    The holiday season is approaching but for some reason all I can think about is the shootings at the mall in Nebraska. Which makes me think of the Virginia Tech shootings which makes me think of the Columbine shootings.
    Not very festive, huh?
    But seriously, what a better time to think about such things, especially when we are all trying to spread joy, merriment and cheer?
    Before we talk solutions, we need to expose the problems, because I wonder if we aren’t all somehow to blame. Certainly I’m not absolving the shooters of their drastic outbursts, but somehow, I think we all played a small part in driving them towards it.
    It’s hard to really describe what kind of degradation and embarrassment children can hurl on their peers, but there is sadism in children and teenagers, especially the powerful ones, without adult supervision. Everyone has scars from childhood, but these days, most of the scars come from school.
    When I was attending high school, we could leave campus and walk to my friend’s house, a block or two away. Or drive and get McDonald’s. Or go to the 7-Eleven. At lunch, at least for 50 minutes, you could get away. And in the early part of last century, kids used to be able to get away by other means. Jump on a ship. Catch a train. Take a walk in the woods on the outskirts of town. But suburbia doesn’t have outskirts. There are no places to hide.
    The houses are in the middle of sprawling neighborhoods, so big that you need a car to go anywhere. Kids go from the house, to the bus (which itself can be hell), to the school - a closed campus surrounded by fences - back to the bus and the house.
    And there’s something about the utilitarian efficiency of the school buildings, nowadays. There’s no character, no substance. Just plastic furniture, pre-fabricated dividers and collapsible tables. All schools, all the same, just different colored commercial grade linoleum. Vast and open, there’s no place for the outsider to hide from the ridicule.
    These kids had abuse and loneliness heaped upon them year after year after year. Out in the open, mocked in front of anyone and everyone just so the mockers could feel better about themselves. But you can only take so much loneliness and isolation, especially in the middle of so many people.
    I think these “Drowning Pool” lyrics spell out how some of our youth are feeling. If you listen as well, the anguish and anger accurately relays the intensity of the lyrics … and the screaming.
    Beaten why for
    Can’t take much more
    One - Nothing wrong with me
    Two - Nothing wrong with me
    Three - Nothing wrong with me
    Four - Nothing wrong with me
    One - Something’s got to give
    Two - Something’s got to give
    Three - Something’s got to give
    Now/Let the bodies hit the floor
    Push me again
    This is the end
    Skin against skin blood and bone
    You’re all by yourself but you’re not alone
    You wanted in now you’re here
    Driven by hate consumed by fear
    Let the bodies hit the floor
    I guess what I’m trying to get at is that all the perpetrators were missing a real human element in their lives. For the Columbine kids, they were repeatedly picked on and tortured by the popular kids. For the Virginia Tech killer, he was viciously ostracized socially by the opposite sex and many male students, too. For the Omaha boy, he had broken up with his girlfriend, lost his job and faced chronic depression. I’m not excusing — just trying to understand.
    Bottom line: they all needed love from the people around them.
    It seems like in this modern world of gadgets and Facebook and reality shows, everyone is really in it for themselves, and often times, many people get shunted to the side and ignored — sometimes by those closest to them.
    But I’m hear to tell you — it’s time to reach out.
    Please, stop and tell those you care about that you love them. Stop and tell them how much they really mean to you and how much their presence enriches your life. Tell them about their wonderful traits, their wonderful abilities and all the beautiful things about them.
    Because, though many of us are able to supply self-affirming information to ourselves, there are far more people who are seeking an outpouring of love and emotion from anyone.
    At Christmas, we should remember the central message of Jesus — love. He knew that love can overcome many of the problems and adversities we face. After all, have any of us ever done anything angry or destructive when we felt truly filled up by love?
    One last thing, loving a person is a choice – unlike teenage infatuation or “falling in love” – constant, consistent loving is a choice. So this holiday season, really offer up a piece of yourself to those around you who especially need it. It may just work miracles.

    Phil Boyum wishes everyone (even Soundoff callers) a very Merry Christmas.
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