Teachers Who Teach
On the 3rd day of my high school life the twin towers fell in New York and at 14 years old and I had no idea that that one teacher’s response to that tragedy would shape how I grew and who I grew into. On September 12th in our 4th period class my teacher sat us down and told us she had something important we needed to talk about. She talked to us about religious freedom, and not confusing a religion with a terrorist organization; the importance of not stereotyping or jumping to conclusions, or placing blame.
Ever since that day over 9 years ago I have kept her words in my mind whenever a tragedy of any caliber strikes. Yesterday when I first saw the news that congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had been shot my first thought was “I wonder if the blame game has started yet.” It had – people were already all over the internet talking about who had done this and why they had done this and who should be blamed. Giffords was not even at the hospital yet and already people had theories ranging far and wide about the shooter.
I sat at my keyboard and typed out the first thing that came to mind as my facebook status: Now is when we must stand in love and solidarity, and not let ourselves be dragged down by hateful rhetoric.
The hateful words, the want for payback, the mean spiritedness? None of those will do anything positive, or help us be the change, or encourage others to respond with positive and encouraging words. This was a tragedy, yes, and anger is an expected emotion, but when the anger that we are experiencing triumphs over our drive and desire to stand on the side of love with those who have been harmed is when we should stop, observe, and adjust.
Let us join hands with people around the country who were affected by the tragic shootings of January 8th, whether they were directly involved in some way or involved simply in the fact that they are people who hate to see violence and hatred directed at other people. Let us remember that hate speech will never cancel out hate speech, and violence will never cancel out violence. May our love inspire love and our encouragement inspire encouragement and may we see a new day rise where hatred is met, full force, with love.
I think my teacher would agree.