Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I would never have imagined it, that something so violent could happen in Kauhajoki in times of peace. Kauhajoki is not far from my home place of Juonikyla, that I left so many years ago to immigrate to Canada with my parents and sister, Katja. Here I am at one of the "busy" intersections in Juonikyla (or should I say the intersection in Juonikyla?) with some of my cousins and my friend, Anna, who was born in Canada but now lives in Helsinki.
My sisters and I went shopping "downtown" Kauhajoki that summer of 2001. I bought that big yellow bag that you see hanging from my shoulder. Those are some of our bags on the bench, not a homeless person curled up, although my sister's shoes make it look like there's a person there.
My idyllic memories of smalltown Kauhajoki, however, were shattered this morning by the terrible news of the killings in Finland at a technical school, ironically called The School of Hospitality. I was sitting at the kitchen table, munching on my just-baked manoushi pie and enjoying a cup of coffee, when I heard the radio announcement. The newscaster only mentioned that this school killing happened in Finland, so when I opened my computer and received news from my cousin, Ari, that the tragedy happened in Kauhajoki, I was really shocked. Kauhajoki is such a small place. It is so quiet there. It is off the beaten track. What a terrible way to put this obscure place on the worldmap.
I send my deepest condolences to all the families who lost loved ones, many who were young women, and to the traumatized survivors, their families, and to the whole community. I can imagine how they are feeling, so much death around them. Such senseless violence that visited them, by their own hand. It must be terribly heavy on the heart to have this "home-grown" tragedy.
I read that the killer had copies of the Columbine videos and they were his favorites. He lived in a world that extended beyond the boundaries of Kauhajoki. Maybe all this media attention which sensationalizes these sorts of school-boy-on-classmates violence has to stop. It seems to get them the attention they crave, in their small, twisted minds. Posting their own videos beforehand on YouTube to ensure more media notoreity. Sadly, the killer was probably "an average guy". Your neighbour's son. Your brother. Your classmate.
Of course, access to handguns, is dismissed as having nothing to do with tragedies like this. Or the glorification of guns and the increasing normalization of militarization and of war as honorable. Of course, access to handguns is not the only determining factor, as many things work together to create such unbalanced thinking and acts, but surely, if one did not have access to a handgun the ensuing violence would be on a lesser scale?