My Best Attempt


JiaLi Deck

In liu of the tragic shooting at Central Visual & Performing Arts Highschool, JiaLi Deck reflects on what it’s like to grow up in the wake of constant tragedy.

I don’t quite know how to start. I’ve sat here staring at the cursor for almost thirty minutes. Blink. Blink. Blink. What are you going to write JiaLi? What are you going to say? I don’t know. How do I say what millions of people have already said? We’ve been here before. How do I write something that does anything other than induce a feeling of deja vu? I suppose I can’t guarantee anything. But consider this my best attempt:

I am angry. Furious. Livid. We can fix this. We know how, but we won’t. Americans are their own greatest enemy. We kill each other. We scorn each other. We can save each other, but we won’t. We won’t because of our rights! The constitution! You can’t take away my guns! Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave.

This is absurd. The majority of the country is in agreement, but somehow the only people who are able to make a change refuse to do so. Instead they spend their time trying to protect kids from knowledge. The real threat to our children is To Kill a Mockingbird! It’s Huckleberry Finn! It’s critical race theory! We don’t need gun control, we need less trans girls!

He should be, because a whole generation just realized no one cares about their future. They just realized that if they bled out on a linoleum floor nothing would change.

— JiaLi Deck

What kind of country is this? “First world” my ass. All our lives we’ve been told that America is the good place, but now we can see the man behind the curtain and even he’s scared. He should be, because a whole generation just realized no one cares about their future. They just realized that if they bled out on a linoleum floor nothing would change. If they had to watch their teacher take a bullet, politicians would look the other way. They realized they’re on their own. Maybe when they can vote congress will finally care. 

We just did this. I feel like I’m losing a sense of what’s important. What’s even a big deal anymore?

Did you hear about the shooting?

Oh yeah, in the supermarket. So tragic.

No, the one at the school. 

Oh yeah, those high schoolers were too young. So tragic.

No, the one at the grade school.

Oh yeah. So tragic. 

And then we go on with our lives. We do some extra drills. Post some more on Instagram. Write some somber emails. Offer our condolences. Thoughts and prayers. And then we go on with our lives. I’m so tired of this cycle. I’m so tired of nothing changing. 

I bite the inside of my cheek and look at the ceiling because someone once told me it will stop you from crying. And I don’t want to cry again. I hate crying. Sad is such a nondescript word, but some feelings are so big they can only be described by the simplest words. I am so sad. People are dead. They were murdered. They’ll never get to grow old. Their lives are over. Done. Complete. Everything they’ve ever done is everything they will ever do. Their families will never hug them again. Their friends will never hear their laugh. Never see them smile.

I am scared. The distance between me and those bullets is shorter than it has ever been. They say the police did everything they could. This was the best case scenario. Two people are dead and this is the best case scenario. It could have been us. It could have been me. It could have been here. 

Our school is built like a school, it’s not built to protect against bullets.

— JiaLi Deck

Our school is built like a school, it’s not built to protect against bullets. It’s not built to escape an active shooter. We have big blue lockdown buttons, and police just a block away, but would that be enough? In reality, I find it hard to believe that it is. If someone decided to attack during lunch, or passing periods, or in the quad, or in the connecting science classrooms, it’d be a massacre. All the doors lead to the quad. How would you escape? It’d be a massacre.

You know, I’m the same age as the Sandy Hook kids. They would have been juniors in high school right now, if they weren’t shot dead in the first grade. Every word I’ve ever said since December 14, 2012 was a word they never got. I’m grateful and yet I’m greedy. I’m greedy for more. I’m expecting a tomorrow. I deserve tomorrow. They deserved tomorrow too. 

I don’t stop to think that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I bet they didn’t stop to think that either. I bet they have unfinished business. I bet they have millions of words they never got to say. I wonder what they would say.

I don’t quite know how to end. History proves that begging for change will change nothing. This essay will have absolutely zero effect on anything significant. The words on this page will get lost in a sea of grief and protest. You will soon forget you read this (that is assuming you even made it this far). Pretending I’m making a difference will just be a coping mechanism for my own feelings of complete hopelessness. But consider this my best attempt.