Dear Elliot Rodger: How Your Hate Has Made Our Love Stronger Than Ever

by Cecily Trowbridge

Dear Elliot,

This morning I watched your video for the first time. You know the one with just over two million views. It’s made you famous. I’m not sure why I felt compelled to do so, as at this point I’m done asking why or how. I know that logic has nothing to do with this.

You couldn't be there, so I want you to know what the loss of life you forced upon the Santa Barbara community truly sounds like. It's shuffling steps and the continuous flick of lighters to keep tiny white candles lit; it's overwhelming quiet mixed with sobs so fervent, you wonder how the person walking next to you will ever feel anything again.

It sounds like chancellors with generic speeches of regret and hyperventilating students who can still feel the air blown toward them by bullets that came centimeters away from ending their lives. The poignant, smart statements of politicians like Hannah-Beth Jackson, whose presence signified that your acts had reached those in power.

But not one person demonized you. Not one person was as ardently livid as any observer would have guessed. We didn't remember you; we remembered those you took from us.

You underestimated us. This community has turned profound loss into profound strength.

Had you witnessed the vigil, you would have experienced an abundance of the very spirit you lacked. What I want you to know -- what I want everyone to know -- is that as speaker after speaker stepped onto that small stage in a park in the middle of Isla Vista the day after you took lives from us, something changed.

As there was sorrow, there was community and most importantly, hope for the future. As angry and devastated as the majority of us should have been, the overwhelming instinct was to feel grief for you: a lonely, sad, sick boy who obsessed over ethnicity and gender to mask profound illness and insecurity.

You should know that you, Elliot Rodger, have brought new hope to our world. Because of you, what will become the strongest feminist movement for years has been brought to fruition. #YesAllWomen inspired over one million tweets in barely a 48-hour timespan, drawing light to the hateful, misogynistic mentality that fueled you by empowering women all over the world.

Because of you, politicians are being forced to acknowledge our failing gun control policies, and you’d better believe that this time, there will be change. Though the media will make an effort to mold our thoughts, we will not set our sights on presenting autism as a dangerous state; it’s not.

We won’t go after the police for failing to break down your door when your family warned them you were unstable. As was the case regarding many of the factors that failed to put a stop to your attack, it was our law that was wrong, not our police, and there will be a change.

No, you have not crippled us. You have not rendered us a broken faction; you have galvanized us. You've been the driving force behind the energy that has spread throughout Santa Barbara, throughout the United States and the world.

No one yet knows what change will occur as the result of your acts, but when it happens, and it will, the six people we lost will represent that change. They will live on with the spirit of everything that you aimed to lay to ruins. They live through me and every person whose character was formed by that community. They live through every parent and every student across the world.

I want you to know that I wish I had known the sickness that you were feeling. I would have told you that no woman -- blonde, brunette, red-headed, black, white, Asian, Hispanic -- would have wanted you to feel what you were feeling. No one wanted you to hurt just as no one wanted to be hurt. I want you to know that because of you, we grieve, but we are hopeful.

Over time, that hope will turn into the fight that will one day make what you did impossible.

Photo via Facebook