I attended the Hay House “I Can Do It” conference in NYC this weekend. It was just the shot in the arm I needed to get me back to this blog.
Wayne Dyer, one of my most influential mentors, was one of the keynote speakers. If you aren’t familiar with the body of his work, run to the nearest book store and buy his first book, “Your Erroneous Zones”, and start with this little morsel when you have about an hour. You’ll be hooked:
I Can Do It
Wayne had a guest speaker join him for a few minutes toward the end of his three-hour seminar. Scarlett Lewis took the stage. She is the mother of little 6-year-old Jessie Lewis, a fatal victim of the unspeakably tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and 6 adults dead on December 14, 2012.
As a former teacher and school administrator, this incident had rocked my world and left me reeling with sadness for many days and weeks that followed. While the media focused on the overwhelmed families and the community and the rage of the killer, Adam Lanzar, all I could think about was who was this boy and why had this happened. Who were the potential Adam Lanzas that I had known over my 33 years in public education. Which of the disenfranchised, disturbed, dysfunctional children who had been harassed, isolated and bullied could have done what Adam Lanza did? I racked my memory to think, could one of my students have done this? I have known thousands of students, but only a very few, three to be exact, kept resurfacing in my mind. I wondered what had happened to these three boys once they had graduated. At least when they were in school, we knew where they were, we gave them services, we tried to help them. But what happens to them when they leave? Who is taking care of them, talking to them, helping them sort out their rage, overcome their isolation? I stopped dead in my tracks, because the only answer I could come up with was, NO ONE. Probably no one was there for these 3 boys who were now young men. Maybe their mothers, but what could a mother do? I am haunted by what Mrs. Lanza’s last thoughts were when her son Adam shot her.
As I sat in the audience yesterday, I was reminded of the day, when I was a middle school assistant principal on September 11, 2001 in a suburb just north of NYC. We had to tell the students what had happened at the Twin Towers, run counseling workshops, comfort frightened staff and students, and then make sure that each student had been picked up by someone. So many of their parents worked in the city and would not be able to get home because the bridges and tunnels had been shut down. The last student was picked up by an aunt at 6:15 that evening, and I left the school a ghost town.
I also lived in the city and couldn’t get home so I stayed at the home of the school psychologist that night. When I got to her house, she poured me a glass of wine and told me to go into the yard and just lie in the hammock. After 9 hours, I finally let myself fall apart. I cried uncontrollably for about 10 minutes and then a calm came over me. Elizabeth, I guess, had been watching from the window, and when I got calm, she came out and joined me.
“You know this has got to change everything, now,” I declared.
“Yes?,” she asked dubiously.
“This has got to be the beginning of world peace. There’s no other road to take. This has got to wake up the world. The madness has to stop!” I protested.
And I really believed it! I believed this singular event would be the wake up call we as a nation needed to set a new paradigm in order. We would be the catalyst that opened a new conversation. We would lead the way.
Well, we saw how that worked out.
So to hear Scarlett Lewis’ message of love and survival, the message that we must choose love instead of anger, fear or hatred, so resonated with me. Scarlett is a brave and strong woman and she is willing to lead the way. As the Dali Lama believes, if we would just teach 8 year olds how to meditate on compassion for only one hour a week, we could change the world in just one generation. Why aren’t we doing this!!!! Why is it that we must wait for a tragedy to occur and then send in the triage team?
So I’m putting it right out here, right now. I’m going to make this my mission! I am going to work toward providing compassion curricula to schools and to finding a way to change the hate to love. I’m going to work to shift the paradigm. Let me know if you want to be a part of this. There will be much more to come.
You can start by supporting Scarlett Lewis’ foundation by visiting http://www.jesselewischooselove.org/