Reckoning with Tragedy

Marin Monteith speaks on the Tree of Life Shooting

Senior Marin Monteith shares about the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting

As the new year approaches and 2018 comes to an end, we are given the opportunity to look back and reflect on the past 12 months. 2018 has seen a number of major tragedies. There have been over 300 mass shootings in the United States since January of this year. The regularity of mass murders in the U.S. has some people questioning our response to mass shootings. In school settings especially, some question whether class time should be taken away to discuss shootings and mourn lost lives.

On Wednesday, November 28, AHS senior, Marin Monteith, gave a speech honoring the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. In addition to sharing her own personal experience and reaction to the shooting, Monteith invited AHS students to reflect on and mourn the 11 lives lost in the tragedy.

In her speech, Monteith encouraged students to embrace the grief that accompanies these tragedies and to try to create a sense of empathy for the victims of the Tree of Life shooting. “We are the generation that is going to be responsible for the way that the world thinks about these issues,” said Monteith while talking about the importance of addressing tragedies in the school setting. “These issues are going to the wayside, and people are forgetting them because they don’t affect us directly so [students think] it’s not our problem.” Monteith admitted that she was disappointed by the lack of recognition from AHS following the Tree of Life shooting, recalling that it was discussed in only one of her classes.

“In Ashland, there is a very strong sense that ‘if it doesn’t touch me then it doesn’t matter’,” says Monteith. “The only people of the Ashland community that I saw reacting to the Tree of Life shooting were the people of the Ashland Jewish community.”

Monteith clarified that she didn’t blame anyone for numbing themselves to mass shootings, and admitted that she too was guilty of desensitizing herself to the world around her.

“I have no anger or resentment to people who are numbing themselves or building themselves a wall,” says Monteith. “I did not give that speech from a place of anger, but from a place of desperation.” Continuing, Monteith cautioned that we “hold the whole value of the human life in our hands, no matter if its people in our community or people on the other side of the country. I want the whole world to understand the value of human life, and that starts with us.”

When asked about her hopes for the future, Monteith stated that she wants to see people around her caring about these issues so that mass murderers will feel fully alienated for their crimes against humanity.

Following her speech, Monteith passed out notecards so that people would have the opportunity to send a message to the families and friends of victims of the Tree of Life shooting. “My grief was so deep that it could have left me feeling hopeless, but knowing that a message was getting across made feel better because it was an actual productive action that took steps toward change,” said Monteith when speaking about how the cards helped her to cope with her own sadness. “I am grateful to everyone for listening and taking my words to heart. I want everyone to know that this is not a hopeless cause, and that we have so much power. Change will happen if we make it happen, and everyone is capable of making it happen.”