Human nature. So much good. So much bad. So much ugly. It is astonishing and heart-wrenching to me that some of our greatest flaws and weaknesses have endured so long that they seem impossible to eradicate.
Is peace on earth possible? Perhaps not. Is peace among citizens of the same country possible? I certainly hope so. Peace in a community? A family? Within our own selves?
What is so hard about obtaining this ideal? Don’t we all want it? The majority of us, at least? There has to be an attainable reality somewhere between the dystopia we seem to now be living in and the utopia of fiction and fantasy.
When our country fights, citizen against citizen, citizens against government, it is sad enough. For me, as a teacher, it is sadder. I am with our youth every day, and let me tell you, they are in sad shape. They need me. They need you.
It seems educating them is one of the last things I get to every day. First, I offer a hungry student my breakfast. I whisper to another if they need to talk in the hallway. I align another with resources because she just became homeless. I offer to fill in as mother-figure because he lost his. I call in a secret code on the phone to have a student immediately evaluated for self-harm intentions. I turn in a call for help on a writing assignment to a counselor. I stay home with the rest because there is a threat being investigated.
My students, our youth, need me. They need you. I need you.
It is not cliché that it takes a village to raise a child: it is a fact. For some students, my classroom is a safe haven, the only one they currently have in this world right now. It is my #1 goal to provide that, and my #1 expectation in my domain is a “positive learning environment.” My students and I talk about this on day one. I play “Sunshine and Lollipops and Rainbows” to exemplify what I do not expect, what is not realistic. I don’t want us to be fake. I want us to be accepting. I want every student, every member of my classroom “family” to feel comfortable being themselves and sharing their thoughts without fear of harm or judgment. This goal is not utopian, in my opinion. And it is the truest desire of almost every student, every human perhaps.
Our youth need you. They need community. Not a community divided: a community united. A community that can put petty differences aside. A community that can model behavior that is not historically ignorant. A community that can set some time aside to put our youth first. Recognize them. Guide them. Mentor them. Educate them. Believe in them. Support them. Love them.
The toughest, most outwardly obnoxious “punk” is the one who needs a hug the most.
The quiet, invisible one whose name nobody knows is the one who needs his name spoken out loud the most.
The one who is just plain mean, who is being the ring leader in ridiculing others behind their backs, is the one who needs to be publicly dethroned immediately.
The one who demonstrates character when no one is looking is the one who needs to be recognized.
Peace on earth is no longer an ideal I consider. I am too busy trying to help individual teenagers find peace within themselves, find a peaceful place to call home. What a world it would be for them if they could eventually be a part of a peaceful community, and dare I dream….
a peaceful country.