Before you jump into vehement disagreement with that statement, let me explain.
I’ve been thinking about how our society has moved to a place where it appears that people casually, and with great frequency, express love for something or someone. Is it possible that each declaration of love is upheld with the genuine feelings that love implies, such as compassion, empathy and unconditional support? I suppose the flip side of that question is whether we have possibly inadvertently cheapened what love means by using the term offhandedly? Wouldn’t the term “like” be more appropriate in the midst of most conversations when we are expressing the importance of the connection or relationship?
Metaphorically speaking, I think we can all find an example of how we, as individuals, fit into a larger group that shares a common purpose. We all “play in the orchestra” in one way or another.
My focus today is to consider those qualities associated with individuals who collectively make that beautiful music. Quite often, I suppose almost always, those personal attributes go unnoticed during the performance and our focus, appropriately, is on the orchestra as a whole. But what if the members of the ensemble took a more “self-centered” approach to preparing and participating? What if their own personal accomplishment and achievement outweighed that of the group?
As I watch and listen, I am struck by one particular violinist in the third row. She is focused, attentive and fully engaged with the piece that is being performed. It is clear that she has trained on the instrument for years, rehearsed repeatedly for this moment and is immersed in the collective sound which now fills the auditorium. It appears that the woman, if her enthusiasm is any indication, is completely satisfied with her anonymous role in the middle of the string section. There will be no solo part for her this evening, no individual recognition or bow to the audience. Her contribution will be on par with each and every member of the orchestra, and that is the way an orchestra works.
I suppose this qualifies as a “grown-up” problem and I am unsure about which part of that question is most important. In general, I feel that knowing the “why” is an essential root of understanding other components of a question or query. The “when” may tell us what date something occurred, but the intriguing part is delving into the mystery associated with the cause.
Spending my days in a community of over 500 children, most of whom are under the age of ten, I get to witness behaviors which are the result of a connection between youthful emotion with spry physical expression. In this environment, we frequently see children spontaneously break into action for some apparently unknown reason. Those of us who are blessed by witnessing this behavior, immediately recognize the unintended message sent by the child in motion. In response, the observer generally is washed over with a sense of childish wonder and for just a few moments, seeks to share whatever that sweet feeling is that pushed the start button.
Let us all declare that there is “No place for Hate!”
No place in our society, not in the media, not in politics and certainly not in a place of worship!!
There are no positive outcomes from behavior founded on feelings, expressions or acts when hate and malice is the motivator. Each of us may have differences with people who we do not fully understand. We often have frustrations with those who oppose our views. There are also times when we are left bewildered and confounded by the behavior of others when they confuse us. However, none of these scenarios merit an escalated emotion that is based on Hate.
The fundamental concept that a person would want another person/s dead because of their individual characteristics, whether those characteristics are God-given or chosen, is fundamentally unacceptable in any society. Any views or commentary that in some way leads to forming that opinion and feeling in a person’s heart and mind needs to be categorically condemned. Having a lack of respect for other humans, based on who they are or what they stand for, isn’t something God considers right no matter your faith.
One thing that we, the shepherds of young people, need to agree upon and express is that every person is precious made in God’s image. It isn’t enough for any of us to think that just echoing the voice of inclusiveness and tolerance is enough in our role as teachers. We must be fully committed to first establishing the belief that every person is equal in God’s eyes and push forward relentlessly to defend that premise and belief.
How about those Dodgers?!!!!
It is fascinating how so many of us are influenced by the power of a loyalty engendered by a sports team, especially when they are winning!!!! The ebb and flow of the season, the wins and losses and the performance of individuals and the team ultimately have an impact on our lives and the entire community. While very few of us have a formal relationship with these teams, there is this emotional connection that is evident to all.
I can’t help but wonder what it is about being a fan. Avid or casual, a person who cares about a certain team or player carries a pseudo sense of ownership that is strictly voluntary and of no tangible value. There are many books and scholarly studies on the relationship between teams and their fan base. Theories on the benefits and shortcomings of this lasting link that sometimes lasts generations. Do any of us really understand why we love the Dodgers, or more importantly the Red Sox?!!! Is it something we chose to do or is it just the nature of social association that takes over something inside our brains? Heck, I don’t know.
Recently, I have had numerous conversations with folks about how well, or not so well, we as individuals genuinely consider another person’s alternative position on something. I’m not just talking about politics or religion but the subtler day-to-day things that affect the spaces that lie between the developed opinions or positions we hold dear.
In my work as a school administrator I often refer to this approach to a new perspective as a “willingness” to consider, learn and potentially grow. The personal awareness that considering the views or needs of another could not only demonstrate respect and appreciation for that person but also ultimately enrich our own life. You never know what may trigger a reevaluation of what you thought was a certainty unless you avail yourself to that possibility. A door closed, one locked on both sides, will only serve to keep things the same, isolated from the potential of improving or evolving.
When looking at things in the grand scheme, the limits imposed by such barriers restrict the potential of joining the best elements of different ideas into thoughtful and developed solutions. For example, when I talk to our eighth graders about their search for the “right” high school, I remind them that if they only consider one, they will never know why that school stands out. They will be unable to gather any information that either validates their original choice or challenges it. Without considering an alternative we are left in an uninformed position. And when it comes to making big decisions in life, isn’t it best to be informed?
The excitement that naturally comes with the beginning of a new school year is something to cherish. Every family has a different routine as they collectively transition to a new chapter.
Whether those final days of summer are full of gathering last minute supplies, getting the school wardrobe complete or slipping in that last-minute vacation, we all prepare differently. I’m convinced that while busy tying up loose ends, the important thing is that we stay focused on the opportunities that are waiting ahead for the children. As a child unfolds the wonder of growing and learning we get to watch in amazement. What an honor.
In my Summer Letter I wrote that we are creating a heightened awareness of our responsibility to support “Every Child Every Day.” Ever since Mother Cornelia founded Holy Child schools the focus has been on the needs of the children and remains a fundamental element of all schools in the Network of Holy Child Schools.
In a year when I am striving to promote Love in our community, it is so difficult to open my comments this week with reflections on the safety of children at school in the United States. I think we can agree that it would be so much more inspiring if I were sharing my insights on the wonderful learning experience the children have each day or how their growing relationship with God is helping them become better people. Their safety isn’t something they are responsible for nor should they need to worry about it. That burden falls on us, the adults who form the society in which the children live and will grow up, the ones who do not fall to violence.
Our focus, words and actions need to be on how we form a culture where each young person is reasonably safe from danger and violence while they grow up. This environment of safety we seek goes far beyond the halls of schools and includes the streets and neighborhoods of our nation, public places, and even our homes. In the end, we have seen that it is people who make life dangerous for our kids not the location or instrument of violence. I understand that measures can be taken to “protect” children but can we also push harder to diminish the need for “protection?” Once a danger exists it requires us to create corrective responses that otherwise would be unnecessary. While oversimplified, I think you can get the picture.
Yesterday – January 15 – the calendar aligned so that we could celebrate the lives of two extraordinary people. Each of us knows the significance of their legacy and those of us associated with the Holy Child community appreciate the direct gifts of Mother Cornelia.
I find it inspiring to ponder the impact and influence that certain people have had on our history and society. What is it that sets them apart and leads them to make such profound contributions to the world we live in? As they go about their work, do they ever consider the possibility that generations of people will benefit from their dedication to something bigger than them?
Is there any way that Cornelia Connelly dreamed that children on the west coast of the United States would be learning and growing in accordance to her lessons? Would Dr. King be shocked that the nation stops for a day each year to reflect on the powerful message of equality he left resonating in our minds and hearts half a century later? The power of their individual voices echoes with people and in places far after each left us. They have left an unending ripple.
Since most of you who read my Notes each week have experienced the Mayfield Junior School kindergarten through your child, I think you will share my declaration that the Nativity Play is a true expression of the wonder associated with the birth of Jesus Christ. The children present the story with precious innocence and embody the pureness that came to us in this miracle.
When I witness this annual event, I see the power of the goodness and love associated with this blessed tradition flowing to us through the children. In the midst of all the hoopla associated with the season, our youngest are the ones who deliver the clear message without all the contemporary complications.