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David D. Coleman
We've all heard someone say that they would "just die" if a certain person were to break up with them. We have heard people claim that they could just "kill somebody" for hurting them so badly. How much love does it take to kill? When does the pain of staying in a relationship out weigh the pain of leaving? When does love and rejection hurt badly enough to kill? We've all learned the sad answers to these questions as our nation continues to collectively grieve the losses felt in Jonesboro, Arkansas and Springfield, Oregon.

Killing out of love is not a new phenomenon. Even now, it only staggers us due to age of the assailants involved. From all accounts of the Arkansas killings, they appeared to stem from two primary environmental issues: repeated exposure to violence, and relationship rejection . It seems that of the four young girls (and one brave teacher) who died, two recently broke up with their boyfriends, setting the gears in motion for tragedy.

In Oregon, an unstable young boy sensing embarrassment he caused his parents, couldn't seem to allow them (or his fellow classmates) to live with feelings of discontentment for him. Better they be dead than disappointed.

Our country has thousands of abuse treatment shelters, proving that violence primarily escalates as a result of rejection in relationships. That this issue (violent abuse) is now beginning to show up among our youth should be no surprise to anyone. Each generation that practices dysfunctional relationships can only pass on to the next generation what is familiar to them. Whatever you practice, you become good at. Escalating divorce rates, rape, murder, stalking, and sexual harassment is documented by the media on a daily basis. From government leaders to teachers, the legacy of data that we are passing on to our children is seriously askew. Are we practicing what we preach? Are we only as sick as our secrets?

Math, English and Science are important topics, but we need to write a new chapter in History. We need to teach what is not being taught: love, compassion, sympathy, trust, respect, intimacy, passion and most importantly grieving and closure. Were you taught these things in school or even exposed to them? Our system teaches us about drugs, alcohol and harmful effects to our environment, but not how to protect ourselves from ourselves, from others, and from the frailties and emotions of being human.

We are a society that takes what we want, when we want it. Our drive for success at all costs is legendary. Our mindset can be found concealed in our name AmerICAN. However, understanding "no" must be taught to ensure that victims do not have to fear retaliation when closing a relationship "at any age." While Jonesboro and Springfield had many more churches than bars, the innocence of courtship and young love will forever be reshaped in the minds of their town and youth. While young boys await trials for murder, our task as a society is to find out why it happened and make sure it never occurs again. The challenge lies in teaching adults and children to win and lose in love and life gracefully, to bring their emotions under control, and to remain positive and productive when resolving conflict. Will this be easy? No. Is it essential? Yes.

By their very nature, relationships will always be intertwined with love, elation, joy, sorrow and pain. It is not better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all unless we can move safely from the hurt into accepting "no" with respect for the person who delivered it, and attain the love we seek the next time around with no strings or conditions attached.

David D. Coleman

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