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 My Notes from Chain Reaction 2001 by Darrell Scott

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PostSubject: My Notes from Chain Reaction 2001 by Darrell Scott   Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:13 pm


Among the people Rachel reached out to were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two troubled young men who unleashed the tragedy that Columbine is now known for. Some people have even suggested to me that it was her outreach to Eric and Dylan that killed her. I don’t know.

She could be very direct with people like Eric and Dylan, whom she criticized for creating videos for class assignments that were full of violence and curses.

But the words I found to be the most troubling came from the video Eric and Dylan recorded on March 15, 1999. Looking at the camera, Harris said, “ We need a [expletive] kick start—we need to get a chain reaction going here!”

Eric’s words stunned me because Rachel had also talked of starting a chain reaction of her own using acts of kindness. As she said in the paper she wrote for a class at school, “ I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

The amazing thing to me was that these statements were made at the same time, in March of 1999, just one month before the tragedy. It was as though these two teenagers laid down a double challenge to their entire generation.

As I thought about the two statements—Eric Harris’s hate-filled declaration of his intent to start a chain reaction of violence and Rachel’s pledge to launch a chain reaction of kindness—I was troubled. Rachel was responding to the love she felt for people and trying to start a chain reaction that spread that love to others.

On the other hand, Eric Harris, a person I believe was a sensitive soul and a deep thinker, had gone to the core of his being and found nothing. Out of the feelings of nothingness and hatred he had bottled up inside, he dreamed of launching a chain reaction of violence and death.

There’s no way to harmonize these two views, so I tried to express my feelings about them by writing the following song. The first verse talks about Eric’s plan, while the second verse explores Rachel’s plan, and the third verse is about my own plan, which emerged in the months after the tragedy.

Chain Reaction by Darrell Scott [copyright 2000]

Two angry boys, charting a plan
Guided by forces they don’t understand
One of them yells, “I’ll make them pay!
I won’t let any one get in my way!”

I’m gonna start a chain reaction
I will not stop till I have satisfaction
I am consumed by agitation
I’ll make a difference in my generation
I’ll be a part, with all of my heart
I’m gonna start—a chain reaction

Pretty young girl, writing it down
Walking her talk, ’cause she knows she has found
Light for her life, watch her now shine
Mercy in action and words that are kind

I’m gonna start a chain reaction
I will not stop till I have satisfaction
I am consumed by inspiration
I’ll make a difference in my generation
I’ll be a part, with all of my heart
I’m gonna start—a chain reaction

They are now gone, I’m here today
Facing the choices that God brings my way
Life can be hard, and I understand
But I’m committed to do what I can

I’m gonna start a chain reaction
I will not stop till I have satisfaction
I am consumed by inspiration
I’ll make a difference in my generation
I’ll be a part, with all of my heart
I’m gonna start—a chain reaction


“My Ethics, My Codes of Life” by Rachel Scott, period 5, March 1999

Ethics vary with environment, circumstances, and culture. In my own life, ethics play a major role. Whether it was because of the way I was raised, the experiences I’ve had, or just my outlook on the world and the way things should be. My biggest aspects of ethics include being honest, compassionate, and looking for the best and beauty in every one.

I have been told repeatedly that I trust people too easily, but I find that when I put my faith and trust in people when others would not dare to, they almost never betray me. I would hope that people would put the same faith in me. Trust and honesty is an investment you put in people; if you build enough trust in them and show yourself to be honest, they will do the same in you. I value honesty so much, and it is an expectation I have of my self. I will put honesty before the risk of humiliation, before selfishness, and before any thing less worthy of the Gospel truth. Even in being honest and trustworthy, I do not want to come off cold and heartless. Compassion and honesty go hand in hand, if enough of each is put into every situation. I admire those who trust and are trustworthy.

Compassion is the greatest form of love that humans have to offer. According to Webster’s Dictionary, compassion means a feeling of sympathy for another person’s misfortune. My definition of compassion is forgiving, loving, helping, leading, and showing mercy for others. I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned that the first and the second and the third impressions can be deceitful of what kind of person someone is. For example, imagine you had just met someone, and you speak with them three times on brief, every day conversations. They come off as a harsh, cruel, stubborn, and ignorant person. You reach y our judgment based on just these three encounters. Let me ask you something: Did you ever ask them what their goal in life is, what kind of past they came from, did they experience love, did they experience hurt, did you look into their soul and not just at their appearance? Until you know them and not just their “type,” you have no right to shun them. You have not looked for their beauty, their good. You have not seen the light in their eyes. Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help it grow, if you don’t walk away from those three impressions first.

I am sure that my codes of life may be very different from yours, but how do you know that trust, compassion, and beauty will not make this world a better place to be in and this life a better one to live? My codes may seem like a fantasy that can never be reached, but test them
for yourself, and see the kind of effect they have in the lives of people around you. You just may start a chain reaction.


Rachel wrote her essay about her code of life in March 1999, just one month before the Columbine tragedy took her life. Months later, I made a shocking discovery. While Rachel was writing this essay, Eric Harris, the Columbine killer who police reports say shot Rachel to death outside the school, was using a video camera to record his own and decidedly darker code of ethics.

Looking straight into a video camera lens and cradling the gun that would later cause so much death and destruction, Eric made the following statement:

We need a [expletive] kick-start—we need to get a chain reaction going here! It’s going to
be like Doom [the video game] man, after the bombs explode. That [expletive] shotgun [kisses
the gun] straight out of Doom.


From Rachel’s Journal:

Things untold
Things unseen
One day all these things
Will come to me

Life of meaning
Life of hope
Life of significance
Is mine to cope

I have a purpose
I have a dream
I have a future
So it seems


According to a Denver Post article published on November 22, 2000, titled “Friends of Killers Saw Rage Building,” both friends and parents of Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold failed to use tough love with the young men.

The article was based on 10,937 pages of crime investigation records that were released on November 21, 2000. The records show that many people had noticed a rage building in Eric and Dylan. Coworkers had seen them explode bombs, and there had been gas fumes in their houses from bombs under construction.

I’m not trying to single out the parents for condemnation, but I am asking, Why didn’t more people see any of these signs? And why didn’t anyone do anything? Where was the love these boys needed?

The beginning of the Denver Post article summarizes the problem: “ While friends saw the violent fantasies of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold turn into an arsenal of guns and bombs, the teens’ parents never suspected their sons were plotting the Columbine High School massacre.”

The article goes on to detail numerous cases in which people who should have known better failed to step in and show tough love to Eric and Dylan:

In the months before the 1999 rampage, one coworker saw Harris and Klebold explode a “dry ice” bomb during their shift at a Blackjack Pizza parlor. A friend watched the teens detonate another bomb in a ditch near Chatfield Reservoir. In his bedroom, Harris also showed the friend two pipe bombs, built with instructions taken from the Internet.

But on the day of the killings, in a house rife with gasoline fumes, Wayne Harris told police he had “no reason to believe his son would be involved with such a situation.” The father told police that his son’s “interest in explosives and firearms was no more than you would expect
from a person looking forward to joining the Marine Corps.”
The Klebolds also were blindsided by their son’s senseless rage.

“Mr. Klebold said he had no idea what happened or why, and indicated that Dylan was his best friend and that they spent a lot of time together,” investigators wrote in an April 30 report.
“The Klebolds indicated that Dylan was gentle, and was that way until the day he died.”

But violent warnings already had been picked up at school. Two months before the worst school shooting in U.S. history, a teacher warned Klebold’s parents that their son had written “the most vicious story I have ever read”—an account of a man dressed in black who murdered “all the popular kids.” “It’s just a story,” Klebold told creative writing teacher Judith Kelly.

The two students maintained apparent “hit lists” of schoolmates to be murdered, and a final video and tape recording described in the bluntest terms how they planned to destroy the school they so despised.

“People will die because of me. It will be a day that will be remembered forever,” said Harris in a microcassette found by police in the kitchen of his home.

Later, when police began searching the Harris house, they found graduation announcements on the dining room table, and a list of people to whom they would be sent. But they also found a handwritten note, lying on the kitchen table, detailing what appeared to be an “itinerary ” for the rampage at the high school.

And on a table by Harris’ bed, they found what appeared to be a time line for the massacre and the number of people he intended to kill.

Nate Dykeman, a close friend of both Harris and Klebold, said he knew the two had been experimenting with explosives for more than a year. In fact, Dykeman said he helped Harris remove and store powder from fireworks in a coffee can.

Dykeman told police he saw several small bombs “sitting out in the open in his bedroom.” He added that Harris once took him into the basement and knocked on a hollow area inside a window well—a hiding place, Harris told him, for bombs he must keep hidden because he’d just gotten into a juvenile diversion program to atone for his burglary of a van.

In yet another tour of the Harris home, Eric took Dy keman into his parents’ bedroom closet to show him a pipe bomb his father had confiscated. Eric told him his father had put it there because he didn’t know what to do with it.

Dykeman also told authorities he once saw Klebold slip several twenty-dollar bills to Blackjack coworker Phil Duran, and thought at first that he’d witnessed a drug transaction. But Klebold later told Dykeman that the money had been for a shotgun, and that Duran had earlier sold him a semiautomatic pistol.

In woods outside the Klebold’s expansive home, however, police also found shotgun wads and a “small electronic device.” Police found evidence of an explosion there.

The article goes on to detail other missed opportunities where people who knew the would-be killers could have stepped in and might have made a difference:

• People listed in Eric Harris’s planning book—under the title “ Class of ’98 that should have died”—said they weren’t surprised by the gunmen’s actions. One said there had been rumors for two years about Harris’s and Dylan Klebold’s plans to blow up the school, and that school officials who were told of the allegations refused to take them seriously.

• On April 19, students saw Harris looking around outside the school library. When asked “ What’s up?” Harris responded, “ Planning for tomorrow.” The student assumed Harris was planning another video for class.

• Student Alexandrea Marsh, who was at Columbine the day of the attack, said Klebold and Harris had been angry after being ostracized by athletes and had talked about “ blowing up the school,” but she was under the impression they were not serious.


In one of the journals found after Rachel’s death, we discovered an entry she had written called “ A Friend.” Perhaps if more of us exhibited this kind of friendly concern, there would be fewer tragedies like Columbine.

A friend . . .
A friend is someone who can look into your eyes and be able to tell
if you’re alright or not.

A friend . . .
A friend is someone who can say something to you without you
telling them any thing and their words hit the spot.

A friend . . .
A friend is someone who can brighten your day with a simple smile
when others try to do it with a 1000 words.

A friend . . .
A friend is someone who can reach out their hand and help you
thru the hurt.

A friend . . .
A friend is someone who can help me and talk to me the way you
do . . . and in you I have found a friend.


Rachel often showed mercy to people by looking beyond her own issues and needs and focusing on the needs that other people had. It has been said that mercy has feet, while pity is just an attitude. You can pity someone else from a distance, but you have to get close to someone else to show him mercy. And Rachel did this, going out of her way to associate with people who were viewed by others as undesirable.

Rachel was not the only Columbine victim who practiced mercy. Lauren Townsend and Cassie Bernall chose to volunteer in local soup kitchens where they fed and helped needy and homeless people.


In a sense, I really think Rachel was trying to reach out to Eric and Dylan and help them. When she confronted them about the videos, she was trying to help them, not to judge them or hurt them. She recognized trouble. She recognized something was wrong. And she loved them enough to be willing to put herself in a position of rejection. Her confrontation was a form of merciful helping.


In one of her journals Rachel used the metaphor of a camera to express her feelings about the visible world of matter and the invisible world of spirit. She concluded that her true essence could not be captured on film.


Rachel knew she wasn’t perfect, and she had her own share of doubts and insecurities, but somehow she was able to look beyond her own problems and focus on the needs of kids who were really being picked on and bullied.

Rachel reached out in this way to Dylan Klebold, who responded to her care by developing a crush on her. Today, many people see Dylan as little more than someone who represents everything that is wrong with young people today, but prior to the shootings he helped orchestrate, he was another student who simply fell through the cracks at Columbine.

According to the folks who knew him best, seventeen-year-old Dylan Klebold was pretty much like most other high school kids, only nicer.

A friendly kid who was born into a loving, affluent home and who joined the Boy Scouts and played Little League during his younger years, Klebold had attended Columbine’s prom three nights before the shooting, telling his friends that he hoped they wouldn’t lose touch with each other when they all went off to college that fall.

There were subtle signs that not everything was as placid as it seemed.

Klebold, whose mother was Jewish, sometimes surprised his bowling buddies when, after rolling a ball down the lane, he would say, “ Heil, Hitler!” They thought he was joking.

Klebold and his friend Eric Harris did have a run-in with the law after they were caught burglarizing a van. And Klebold was a part of a Columbine group who wore long coats and called themselves the Trench Coat Mafia. Still, no one who knew him suspected Klebold could ever be involved in something as horrible as the Columbine killings.

Most of the time, Dylan channeled his creative energies into audio and video production. In fact, it was Dylan who helped run the sound at a school talent show Rachel performed in before she died.

Still, this young man felt so alone and alienated that he teamed up with Eric Harris to eliminate all his perceived enemies. I find it amazing to consider the amount of anger and rage that must have built up to cause someone to do that.

Since Rachel’s death, I have heard many stories about how she reached out to Eric and Dylan. I don’t know any details, but some of her friends told me that she confronted them about some of the violent videos they were making. I wish I knew what she had said, but I probably never will. But at least I know she intentionally reached out to these two troubled young men—both out of compassion and out of concern.

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PostSubject: Re: My Notes from Chain Reaction 2001 by Darrell Scott   Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:24 pm

Sorority do you have a PDF for 'Rachel Smiles' by Darrell Scott?
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PostSubject: Re: My Notes from Chain Reaction 2001 by Darrell Scott   Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:25 pm

I have NOT been able to find a digital copy of that one, sorry.

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