It is such a difficult time for our students to be living in. When I was in school (back in the 60’s and 70’s), we didn’t worry ourselves with shooters entering our schools and taking the lives of fellow students. Even bomb threats were rare and always seemed to be phony threats to get kids out of school early. One thing I often tell my grad students (speaking of today’s teens): “We were never their age.”
Oh, we may all have been teens once, and we may have faced temptations and difficulties. But, we weren’t fearful of fellow students with guns … or worse, angry adults with vendettas. Sure, we faced forced integration and dealt with angry rumors of other races carrying knives but never before has there been a time such as there is now.
My heart was broken a few years back, as I am sure was yours, when a young man in his thirties entered an Amish school house in rural Pennsylvania and shot all of the young girls in that classroom. How tragic this seems; yet, how familiar this scene is to ours. These students were simply going through their daily routine … and then tragedy struck.
My wife and I lived among the Amish for five and a half years in Ashland County, Ohio. They are wonderful people who stay to themselves, seek to harm no one, and fiercely protect their interpretation of the scriptures. They are also highly pacifistic, meaning they typically do not fight back or defend themselves. To see such a crime committed upon such a people is an atrocity. But, it would have been an atrocity upon any group of people.
Such events bring about need for change: change in our means of security, change in our view of others, and change in our outlook on life.
Change comes hard for most of us. Nonetheless, change is one of the few constants in life. In fact, life brings change. We must be willing to accept change and to flow with it. God tells us in His Word that “There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” (Ecc 3:1, MSG). That means change is inevitable. It also means that God, Himself, implements some of this change.
It is sad that schools have to produce the security that they now do. It is sad that the value of a life is so small to some individuals. It is, however, a wonderful thing that we are once again reminded that God has created all of us and that He has established a plan and purpose for everyone. Let us continue to be patient with means of security that are placed around us. Let us be patient to work together to protect our students and to see God’s purpose accomplished in them.
It is a worthwhile effort.
It is a valuable effort.
It is a necessity.
On that note, I want to impress upon all of us the value of our students … and I want to encourage all of us to work with our students and to see God’s best in all of them (and us.) The following passage came from a little book written in the early 90’s. The quote was also featured in the movie, Akeelah and the Bee, as well as in Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 8th Habit. It was written by Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles. It says:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. (Williamson 1992, 190-191)
Although you may disagree somewhat with Williamson’s theology, it is clear that she is an individual who looks for the human potential. Your student has potential. Let’s bring it out of them.
Williamson, Marianne. 1992. A return to love: Reflections on the principles of a course in miracles. New York, NY: Harper Collins.