Saturday, December 15, 2012

We belong to each other

I want to extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to the community of Newtown, Connecticut. As a teacher and a mother, this tragedy shakes me and threatens everything I know to be true about life: that at their core, people are good, kind, and loving. We are just beginning to learn what motivated a young man to end the lives of so many innocent people. Heroes will emerge. Blame will be assigned. I encourage you not to judge the alleged perpetrator of this heinous crime, but instead pray for the victims, their families, and those who are connected to the response effort and investigation. Their lives will never be the same.

Image taken from Momastery.

I have been an educator for ten years in a handful of public and private schools in Illinois and Michigan. I've seen good and bad in each place. I've taught countless children successfully. But there are 5 students that I feel like I didn't reach despite my best efforts. Luis, Cole, Adrianna, Emily, Jacob. Whether their home life was unstable, they were struggling with undiagnosed learning disabilities, or they just didn't "click" with their classmates, their sad faces and rejection of my help still frustrates and saddens me. Even though I have helped so many, it's the ones I could not that I remember. I still think about them.

In the media storm that has followed this tragedy, it has been difficult for reporters to find people who could speak about the alleged gunman. This should surprise no one. The gunman who killed so many innocent children and was barely an adult himself seemed to have had little to do with his peers. He was isolated and alone. There is speculation of mental illness or Autism spectrum disorder. We will have more answers in time. But the take away lesson is this, a quote from Mother Theresa: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

So this week, hug your kids a bit tighter. Bring cookies to your child's teacher. Write an encouraging note to your child's principal, school secretary, and school support staff. Find that kid from your child's class, the one everyone deems difficult, and talk to them. Invite them for a play date. Thank a police officer or first responder. Remember that we all belong to each other.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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