For almost a week, I have been following the shooting that happened in Connecticut. It was a tragic moment, in time, for all of us around the world to have witnessed. It is one thing when another person loses a life through an act of violence, but it is something altogether completely different when it happens to young children. Somehow, it becomes more tragic, more devastating and more eye opening. All of a sudden, we all stand up as a world nation, united in our cause to protect children from being hurt.
In a lot of ways, we could liken these events to the quality of suffering felt by people at the time of 9/11. It’s the same pain, it’s intense, it’s been felt worldwide and it’s shifted our awareness of life and each other, to some degree. It’s just appeared in a different form, but because it happened to children, the magnitude of the event is 100 times worse. Since this has all happened, people around the world are calling for gun reform and better approaches to mental health, as solutions to this confronting event in our lives. We are petitioning to the government, posting on Facebook and trying to get ourselves heard. We are trying, so desperately, to eradicate something that actually isn’t the real problem, but in some ways, as tragic as it is, could be alerting us to the true solution.
For those who know me, I am certainly not averse to challenging the perceptions of the masses in the world, and I am quite ok to be challenged back. I have a very strong and high value on helping children grow into who they are. It’s incredibly important to me. Now, if I asked you the following question, I would suspect that you may reject the question, think I’m crazy for asking it or would flat out say NO. However, it’s still worth asking. Before I do that, answer me this: do you, whoever is reading this right now, value your children or children in general, for who they are? I would suspect that most of you, if not all of you, would probably say yes. So here’s my controversial question. Knowing what you answered for the previous question, can you say that you value that young man, who killed all those people, for who he is? I would suspect, as I mentioned before, a NO response. Why is it that we, as a society, value people more for being more positive than negative or for being more kind than cruel? Don’t get me wrong, I would never wish for my future children or my nieces or nephews to experience this type of event, but there is a deeper and more profound lesson to be learnt from this. It would be wise to probe beyond the gun issues or the mental health issues.
There are a large majority of children around the world, who aren’t valued and appreciated for who they are. These children may be labeled as dyslexic, ADD/ADHD, ‘bullies’, criminals, terrorists, learning disabled, inattentive, unproductive, stupid and so on. The list could seriously go on and on. Imagine, for a moment, you were or are one of those children – constantly pushed aside, constantly perceived to be devalued, constantly perceived to be unappreciated and possibly even ignored. How would you feel initially? How would you feel if this continued over time? How would you feel if most of the attention you received was punishment for doing things or saying things that don’t fit into the box and are not perceived as ‘normal’ by society? Don’t you think you’d become angry, frustrated, depressed or even feel betrayed or rejected? What do you think you would do to get yourself heard or noticed? Have you never been pushed to such extremes when you felt like killing someone? We all have.
The degree to which we act out in the world, depends on the degree to which we receive the opposite in our lives. The less we perceive we get it, the more extreme the measures will be, in order to create it. I don’t condone murder or suicide as necessary action steps. That’s not my point at all, but this incident that happened just recently is a wake up call for humanity. Those people did not die so that we could continue doing the same things we still do – undervalue, judge, label, overprotect, impose our values or project onto children. This wasn’t designed by a higher order in the universe for us to medicate more children and eradicate drugs. Those beautiful children and teachers died to help us make changes to the way we educate, empower, inspire, encourage and collaborate with ALL children. I would recommend honoring them for that contribution. Unfortunately, when we don’t pay attention in other ways, sometimes we attract a crises into our lives to get us to pay closer attention. This is the crises the world has been asking for and it’s time we do something about it.