In the wake of the terrible news of massacre last week the whole country is in shock and a state of mourning. So many innocent little lives lost so many heroes who gave their lives to protect our precious future, and so many heroes that are continuing to give their lives to protect and heal the future of our world. Then in the midst of all of this, parents in similar situations crying for help. “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother…I need help”. As I was processing the world we live in today I read a personal story of a teacher in Sandy Hook Elementary who is sincerely asking the community to love the perpetrator. It is commendable that she has the courage and wisdom at this very trying moment to ask those who are grieving to LOVE and FORGIVE. After all he too was one among them at one point in their lives getting the same education as the ones whose life came to a screeching halt.
So where did we go wrong?
Did we do ANYTHING right by this young man as a society, as a community, as his parents, as his lawmakers, as his educators, as his mentor, as his friends, as his relatives, as his neighbors, as anyone else who could have, should have, and would have (if given an opportunity) touched his life to lead a healthier existence of a productive member of the world at large??????????????
The answer to those questions is not simple. It is not a quick fix. There is no magic pill. There is nothing tangible that can be taken away, banned or otherwise to stop this heinous crime from happening again. The answer is not in a revolution of people marching down the street to ban assault weapons, to change our diet habits, to change our family structure, to change our education system, to increase security in all public places, but in an evolution of the society at large. Any of the external “quick fixes” is just a band-aid to a growing corroding wound underneath.
The answer is a change in our mindset…….change in our way we process and perceive our world……change in our views of morality possibly….change in our egotistic sensitivities and political correctness.
Vivekananda said, “All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything”.
We are, you are, I am the AL of the world. The difference is of degree.
I am AL’s parent. I have dreams, ambitions and hopes. I want to see success in my child. I want my child to be prosperous, famous and successful, have a family, have grandchildren, etc. In the process am I forgetting to focus on AL instead of my egotistic endless dream of hopes and wants? Do I as a parent stop to think who is AL, what is his abilities, what is his potential, what is his dream, what can he do best with heart and soul, what can he do better with his heart and soul, where is his imbalance, where can I help to balance his world? If he is too distracted can I balance him with more attention and focus? If he is too passive can I awaken his spirit of enthusiasm? If he is too aggressive can I help him find some peace? If he is too impulsive can I help him learn self-control? Every AL has all of these traits in some degree of manifestation, I as AL’s parent can I take the time to find AL, and help him find himself? Can I start looking internally for solutions, and stop blaming the society and the system for who he is? Can I teach my AL the lesson of moral values, self-control, mindfulness, empathy, sympathy, kindness, love, and forgiveness? I am not perfect but I can do the best I can as long as the focus is AL and not my ego. Do I have the courage and will to listen to advice that AL may need some help or does my ego come in my way and dismiss the advice callously?
I am AL’s relatives, friends and neighbors. Can I stop and notice this AL who needs a smile or who needs a positive pat on his back? Do I have the courage to speak up when I see AL doing something wrong? Do I have the permission to talk about AL if I notice something amiss? Do I have the will to suggest that AL needs to seek help? Do I have the heart to be supportive and positive instead of being negative about AL? Can I refrain from blaming the parent, the school, the community, the society for who AL is? Can I focus on how I can alleviate AL’s situation?
I am AL’s educator, and school systems. The schools are filled with varying degrees of ALs. Can we focus on how to make this child a self-sufficient individual, instead of comparing the math and science scores around the world? Teaching AL to ace tests is not the only mark of AL’s future. It may be more important to focus on teaching skills to cope with stressors, teaching presence of mind, teaching self-control, teaching quick reflexes for self-help, teaching kindness, teaching integrity, teaching perseverance, teaching self-love, teaching unity in diversity, teaching skills to survive should be my job. I as a school system exist because of funding either through public money or through private contributions. Is it necessary to teach my AL who has not developed mentally beyond the stage of infancy- the concept of ‘cell structure’ and ‘water cycle’? The financial and human resources cannot be stretched limitlessly. I have to use the resources wisely to encourage each child to be self-sufficient. However some ALs will always be dependent on society. Does is not behoove me to spread the resources wisely so that I have enough to take care of this permanently dependent AL with compassion and respect now and later? Should I as AL’s parent not want that too? So why do I the parent become so antagonist with myself as the school system when I am told that AL may have limitations and so services will not be the same as the another AL in the system?
I am AL’s caretaker and health care provider. Is it not my duty to be honest about AL’s condition and to provide the right resources for me as the parent? I am so afraid of being sued for misrepresentation that I have the urge to sugar-coat the truth. I am so afraid that I do not want to state the obvious that at some point AL’s condition may be a threat to the society or that AL’s condition may not change, or that AL will always be dependent. I as the parent am so distraught with disappointment that the advice may be misconstrued as incompetence or lack of interest in my AL. So I choose to seek me in someone else who will appease my thoughts.
I am AL’s lawmaker, government, and law enforcer. I have become so politically correct that I spend more time changing words to make me feel better. I spend so much time and money to change the word of a disability from Idiot, to Mental Retardation, to Intellectual Disability. My AL is the same just the name of his disability is different. Changing the name does not change the needs. But I do not focus on AL, I just focus on how it feels to my mind. I have become so sensitive to words that the reality of who AL is lost in the debate. I want to ban guns, meanwhile AL who has not understood or learnt self-control, compassion, or passion has decided to cause havoc with other items of mass destruction. And now I scratch my head why my law did not prevent the mishap.
I am AL’s religious leaders. I teach my AL that my religion is the only way to God. All other ways are not legitimate. I teach my AL that anyone who is not like me, who is not able to believe in my God is doomed. My AL learns intolerance. My AL cannot accept any other path. My AL cannot find the universal truth. My AL cannot find universal love.
I am AL. I am bound by the same spirit of universal truth. The same spirit that can guide all of us equally regardless of race, color, cast, creed, and belief.
I am the neighborhoods, the community, the city, the state, the country, the world, and the universe I live in. After all if I did not exist, none of these things would have any meaning. Learning love and compassion is not the same as denying the problem and/ or the consequences thereof to the mindless actions. Learning to act by using the universal spirit as my only truth and guiding light may be a where I should start for change to occur around me.
Let the guiding light help the AL in all of us to give a gift…
“To an enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.” – Oren Arnold