With the ending of one year and the beginning of another, we naturally tend to reflect on the past as we look forward to the future. This past year has brought several changes to my life: I started to figure out my new future without my sweetheart, Ron, started a new business, and tried to carry on with a positive attitude in the day-to-day business of living.
There were days when I struggled to find happiness when it would have been easier to wallow in self–pity. I have been overwhelmingly sad at times in the past year, but I have never felt depressed-two very different things. My mother has told me that from the time I was small that I have always tried to remain positive and look for the silver lining. I believe this life-long attitude, along with a strong support system, has contributed to my becoming a victor, not a victim. I have needed to return to that strength and support throughout the year and was ready to consider 2012 an ultimate victory.
Then, just as I started my annual reflections, the extremely horrific and sad event that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary happened. Without entering into the political arena, I would like to say that I can’t help but reflect on the various responses to this unfathomable situation people have had both privately and publicly. I can’t help but be concerned about the violent rhetoric of some. However, upon reflection, it brings me some solace and a lot of hope when I listen to Robbie Parker, the father of Emilie Parker, speak of how we need to “not turn this into something that defines us, but something that inspires us to be better, to be a more compassionate and more humble people.” If the father of a murdered elementary school student can resolve to retain and employ his compassion and humility, perhaps there is a lesson there for us all.
This tragic event lead me to some of the following realizations: I am fortunate to have a job I love to go to every day. But, that same job has the potential of real violence and real danger. I do work with fragile and disturbed children after all. People have asked me if I am afraid to go back into my classroom. The answer to that is, “No! In fact, I look forward to it. There is still much to be done to help these children.” However, it does make me reflect on the violence taking place in our world. I wonder: has the violence increased or does the ease and sensationalism of reporting violence make it appear to have increased? It does seem there is more violence, but, there are also more people in the world. I don’t know the answer and maybe the answer isn’t what’s really important. Perhaps what is important and what each of us can take away from these horrific events is what each of us plan to do about the violence. In my opinion, any violence is too much violence.
Events such as this not only cause me to reflect, but make me re-evaluate my life, and increase my resolve to work harder in my classroom and in my personal life to promote compassion and peace. Therefore, as our new year begins, I resolve:
- To be kinder than necessary, especially to those with whom I find it difficult to get along. If I can’t be kind, I can be quiet. I resolve always to be respectful.
- To be more tolerant of people whose opinions and choices with whom I disagree. Being tolerant does not mean I condone these opinions and choices, but simply that I understand we each have the freedom to choose.
- To always remember that violence does not beget peace and hate does not beget love. I see mild forms of hatred and violence in everyday life. From the myriad of negative bumper stickers to the colleagues who always have something sarcastic to say, to me wanting to yell at the person who backed into me last Saturday in a parking lot. It exists; however, I vow not to surrender myself to it.
- To practice peace each day. Gandhi taught that we must be the change if we want to see the change in the world.
What has this past year made you reflect on, re-evaluate, and resolve to do in this New Year?
Be kinder than necessary, be grateful, and have a peace-filled year,