Last week, on February 14, 2018, our nation watched in horror as news revealed the details of yet another school shooting. On a day celebrated annually as a day of love, our nation and the people of this Florida community witnessed an act devoid of love. They experienced anything but peace.
All over social media we see “prayers and condolences” offered to those touched by this act of violence because, for many, there are no words. As a nation, we’re in shock, and don’t truly know what to think, feel, or do first to prevent future occurrences.
As parents, we weep with those parents, and for those parents. We weep because we now fear sending our own children to school, and we don’t know how to protect them.
As educators and administrators, we can’t imagine the pain of losing beloved students, and possibly even guilt from not being able to protect them. In WV, we weep because our educators are being devalued when to some children, a teacher may be the only advocate in their life.
As therapists, clergy, counselors, and role models, we weep for the loss of peace, hope, and for the brokenness that now exists. We weep because it seems there is never enough time, enough resources, or enough of us to help each child in need of our services.
As community members we weep because the dynamics of families are forever changed when tragedy occurs. We weep because we grieve the life and hope children bring to a community, and now so many of them are gone or hurting. We weep because a school, a safe-haven in our community will now be a permanent memorial of that day. Yes, I said “our community” because we’re all part of one greater community.
As a nation, we collectively weep. (I’ll refrain from inserting political comments here.)
As families we weep. We are so “connected” that we’re disconnected from what’s truly going on with our children. Gadgets outnumber family members, children are babysat by TV, and we hope they learn valuable life lessons from the backseat as we shuttle from place to place.
We weep for the loss of values, family time, and the need for mental health services because so many children are the victims of trauma – in their own homes. Our nation’s teachers have a most difficult job.
What can we do? A number of things, and I’m really only here to talk about one: choosing peace.
- We can remember and teach our children that peace begins with me. Peace begins with you. Peace belongs to everyone.
- Peace is a choice and a commitment. We can extend grace where it may be undeserved. We can hold compassion for those who are hurting, and their outward actions or lifestyle reflect their inner turmoil. We can be friendly to the unfriendly. Disregard those who are unkind and take little to nothing personally.
- We can teach our children to pause before they speak, act, or give energy to negative thought patterns. Give them a checklist of values, ethical guidelines, or scriptures through which to filter all behavior—then practice it ourselves.
- Choose to feel the collective sorrows of our nation and show our children how they can be part of the change. Don’t turn off the news, make a blanket Facebook post, and insert head in sand. Have the difficult conversations. Be real with them and then show them how to livein peace. What ways can your family get involved in the betterment of your community? Who can you serve with your time and resources?
- Slow down. Pay attention. Play with the children in your lives. Listen to the story beneath the story when others speak. Meditate and pray. Seek guidance and remain open to change.
This is longer than planned, and if you’ve made it this far, thank you. I wrote this from the heart after a series of conversations with my 9-year-old, who has his own challenges emotionally, and a social media comment gone wrong about how we can take action.
I’ve learned, and I pray my children learn, that peace is more powerful than violence, anger, greed, or hatred. A hug is more powerful than a hit, as my son said in different words at age 4.
Spreading peace begins with each one of us choosing peace personally.
- It begins with each one of us deciding we are here for more than our nightly shows and personal gratification.
- It begins with every human knowing they are here for a purpose, and only they can uniquely fulfill that purpose, so they get up off their glutes and use their skills, time, and resources to affect change.
- Peace begins with each of us not taking everything so personally, being impeccable with our words, and staying focused on our unique mission (aka, stay in your lane).
What am I doing?
Personally, my family is a work in progress. As a divorced mom of two, we often have times of unrest. It’s not easy, and it’s not always pretty (or peaceful). I work a day job, and I teach yoga a few nights a week. This limits my time with the kids, and we do our very best to fill our time together with as much quality as possible. I am fiercely dedicated to raising children who love themselves and others, value family, and are dedicated to fulfilling their purpose in this world by actively using their skills and resources.
I’m using my skills as a yoga teacher to train others to share this discipline and practice with their future students. I’m teaching them how to apply the ethical guidelines to their own lives as well as to their teaching. I’m doing my best to teach them effective communication. I hope and pray the implementation of these tools helps them live more peacefully.
I also get the opportunity to be part of a movement in WV to train our elementary educators to share meditation, mindfulness, and movement through yogic tools with the children and families within their circle of influence. We are trying to train as many educators in the state by the end of the 2017-2018 school year as possible. These educators will gain these tools personally and put them into practice in classrooms statewide within weeks of their training. Each one will be certified to teach Kidding Around Yoga in their community.
This is how I can help. It’s all I know to do. I can make my workplace(s) a mission field for peace. I can’t reach every child, so I share from my experience and empower others to teach children how to live peaceful lives. That’s powerful.
Peace begins with me. Peace begins with you. Peace belongs to everyone. May the words and actions of my life contribute to the collective pursuit of peace. This is (one) of my prayers.