Archive for February, 2018

In the end, only kindness matters...

 

Yet again, another horrific story fills the feeds of social media and news reports. Another mass shooting at a high school leaves many asking, why? As the story unfolded, I found myself truly shaken like never before.

I will remember that haunting Wednesday evening for as long as I will live. I am standing in my kitchen washing dishes, my daughter eating her supper, with the news playing on the television, I find myself trying to explain to my seven year old what is happening in Florida. And as I start my explanation, my voice starts to quiver, goose bumps form on my arms and tears roll down my cheeks. How do I explain such acts of violence and hate to such an innocent child? How do I make sense of something, when I myself have a hard time wrapping my mind around it?

As the days go by, as more details come through; emotions of hurt, hatred and anger start taking over communities all across the world. This tragedy becomes another opportunity for division, for political debates and for heated exchanges. But we must rise beyond that. In this time of grief, we need to come together. We cannot let hate and anger take over our emotions. We need to turn our emotions to kindness, to hope…to action.

Everyone has a story; everyone has a path that influences the way they feel. Let’s never forget to know these stories, to empower these voices, to listen to the truths that need to be spoken. More than ever, we need to focus on the kids before us. We need to make sure they are loved. We need to make sure they know that they matter.

A good friend, @TaraMartinEDU, shared a post this week call Unconditional. (http://www.tarammartin.com/unconditional/)  She pushes readers and educators to reflect on their own perceptions and reminds us that we need to love without condition. We cannot have students walking our halls knowing that one mistake or one bad choice will leave them lonely and isolated. We cannot let them feel abandoned. We need to uplift them, to know them, to be there for them. Are we all ready to accept her challenge and simply love our students? Can we all make sure that they know they matter?

As I still try to make sense of what happened, as my heart aches for what others are going through, I know I must always try to be a beacon of light. I must lead with kindness if I want my students to believe in good. I need to encourage us to stand together, to be united, not in our silence, but in love and in hope.

We need to talk about it. We cannot forget it. We need to act on it. Policies must change, laws must change. But more than anything, our hearts must change. You see, we can change our policies as a first step. We can safeguard buildings with metal detectors, security screenings and other preventative measures. But if we want lasting change, if we want to safeguard this world for our children, let us change our hearts. Let’s be open to kindness, to compassion, to empathy, to forgiveness. Let’s be open to love, to friendship, to gratitude, to peace.

So tonight I will hold my daughters a little bit tighter. I will be thankful for every extra minute I have with them. I will strive to share a little bit more love, because I know that they need it and that is what they deserve.

And as I remember this tragedy, I want to be left with stories of hope. So I share with you a powerful reminder of kindness, of heroism, of leadership. A story shared by Journalist John Gray:

scottbeigelThis is Scott Beigel, a Geography teacher at the high school in Florida where a gunman opened fire on a peaceful Wednesday afternoon. When the shots rang out he did exactly as he was trained to do, get his kids secure in the classroom and lock the door.

But Scott did something else. When he saw other children running in horror from the gunfire down the hallway he put his own life at risk by opening his classroom door and ushering them in. He saved them. Before he could secure his own life however he was hit with a bullet and killed. Make no mistake he traded his life for theirs.

 
In his last moments on this earth Scott Beigel taught his students the most incredible lesson any of us can ever learn. He taught them that he loved them. Let us live Scott’s lesson, let us show others that we do indeed love them, unconditionally.

Be kind. Always.