Prior to becoming a teacher, I had experience the death of a coworker only one time. I had never known a teenager who lost his or her life. The rate at which our children are dying is not only heartbreaking, it is practically paralyzingly. As a teacher of these young people, I am sick, I am scared, I am at a total loss for what can be or should be done.
I wish we could make them stop growing up so fast. I wish we could teach them to be little longer. But... We rush them... Hurry up and walk because I can't carry you. Learn to dress yourself so I can get myself ready. Get yourself a snack. Let yourself in the house after school. And on and on...
I wish they'd just stay babies longer. There's supposed to be plenty of time for all that grown up stuff.. But we rush them.
I wish we could love them more and just spend time teaching them to daydream, to imagine and to pretend. I wish we could SHOW THEM how to WONDER.
But we rush them. WORK HARD then play hard... If there's time to play. Clean up that kitchen. No you can't go outside--it's not safe. Quit playing! I just cleaned up the house. No you cannot be the tooth fairy when you grow up. You have to do something more practical. We can't afford for you to pursue your dreams so...
Then they hurry through the time that should be set aside for wonder and awe and there's nothing left to do but grown up stuff. And then we wonder why they are dying in the streets.
I am sad for the family of my former student who died tonight, especially for his brilliantly clever 14-year-old brother who will have to figure out how to keep going. I am heartbroken for his friends and former classmates who have seen this too many times to fully comprehend. I am disheartened for our community that barely had time to breathe between incidents much less collect ourselves and come up with real ways to turn this around.
But here's what propose, for now:
• Move forward in LOVE
• Embrace your family members. PHYSICALLY HUG THEM as often as you can.
• Let your children play and pretend and imagine and wonder. Take some time to do those things yourself too.
• Say hello and SMILE at strangers.
• Give compliments freely.
• Be happy for others.
• Instead of revenge, seek opportunities to spread joy to others in the name of evening the score.
• Say "Thank You."
• Say "I love you." It feels weird at first but the more you say it, the more you feel it and the more you feel it, the easier it becomes.
My suggestions may seem trite or might lack the intensity or passion that seems warranted after the death of a young man. But to continue on the same path without making some adjustments will just lead us to this place over and over again. So let's start small with manageable tasks that EVERYONE can fulfill. And when we are healthier and happier let's get back to changing to world in bigger ways.
To my students who are sad and suffering tonight: It IS going to be ok. This world will get better. I know this to be true because YOU are in it. See you soon. I LOVE YOU.