Required Reading

Most of us have attended high school. Some of us have or will have children who attend high school. Probably a lot of us know or have seen a high schooler because they’re a neighbor, person in a car next to you, someone working at a store, or being social in a common place.

Imagine a world with no high schoolers or seeing one as a rare circumstance. It can happen, it’s been happening and it should stop happening.

This issue of Bookisshh explores two works compiled and written by investigative journalist, Dave Cullen, who went to every length possible to be neutral, ethical, balanced and thorough as he explores two key school shootings: Columbine and Parkland.

Every parent, concerned person, voter, school employee and professional who works on behalf of justice, safety and well being of student populations should be required to read these works. Let’s begin with you…

Columbine / Dave Cullen /Non-Fiction

Dave Cullen does the excruciating work of being on the scene of one of the United States’ worst school shootings. He is on the scene, taking in the horror, pain, systemic failures, pain, guilt and suffering of witnesses and survivors. Thanks does not express nearly enough for his passion for understanding why people do the horrible things they do and why they weren’t stopped.

Columbine is a work of comprehensive, investigative journalism in which Cullen toggles back and forth in time, beginning with the end result and culminating just past the fallout day when the shooting took place.

Using firsthand, recorded and printed interviews and cabinets of reports taken by intersecting agencies, Cullen pieces together the lives of the perpetrators, their actions, beefs with society and peers and suggests that psycho emotional and cognitive issues may trump plain teenage angst.

It’s hard to be neutral and fair when horrific and irreversible crimes have been committed but Cullen while sensitive and compassionate tows his line.

Cullen chronicles efforts made to heal–on site counseling, monument building and demolishing, memorial services and silences, legal proceedings and more. Readers will learn that not even the passage of time can erase these wounds… What can fix this? Never letting it happen again (see Parkland review).

Readers will marvel at the messaging fostered by political, religious, personal, educational, legal and law enforcement groups used to promote, redirect, block and control the story of The Columbine Shooting. The breakdowns and interference among and between these social agencies and guardians of trust and safety are startling. Cullen shows readers where that began and ended.

Columbine could’ve been prevented. Read Cullen’s book, discern the convincing evidence and huge gaps in reason and accountability to discover out how and why this mass shooting of innocent people could’ve and should’ve been prevented. It’s pretty clear it could’ve been.

Parkland / Dave Cullen / Non Fiction

This book is a testament to teenager excellence at its most unfortunate and finest moment. Parkland is a manual for recovery and activism merged into singular purpose and will leave you taking notes, signing up for newsletters and possibly allocating funds.

Post Reading I continue to marvel at what young people can accomplish when they have a passionate purpose guiding the use of their collective skills.

Cullen presents a detailed, chronological, narrative at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He introduces readers to survivors, witnesses, experts and the leaders who formed MFOL ( March For Our Lives) movement.

Remaining a shadow, Cullen travels with students as their organization forms, evolves, networks and expands. Readers gain insight into the boundaries set by teens and the adults who respected and supported them in their mission to impact gun legislation in The United States.

Readers get the opportunity to witness the people initially representing the MFOL movement and how they grew along the way in response to the large demands that million dollar contributions, rules and protocols, government and institution impose on the battlefront of change. Cullen and the MFOL stakeholders do not make it look easy but show how important fighting for something and always staying ready for that fight is crucial for creating change.

A critical takeaway from this book is how the MFOL kids networked, strategized, developed campaigns, tours and scaled the details per the audience and media platform employed by them. Unlike Columbine, MFOL keeps one conversation going and pushes through special interest driven media gatekeeping. They are genius.

Parkland is a lesson in recovery response for anyone valuing the safety of children and cares equally about their neighbor regardless of race, religion or income. Pick it up, share the insight, pay it forward.

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