By Heather Kiley
Vice President, AYF
My own self, At my very best, All the time, especially when it’s hard. That’s what we practice in AYF. We acknowledge that the more difficult the challenge or the greater the risk, the harder it is to be our own, best self. And at the same time we recognize that is when our best is most necessary.
This week, in Parkland, Florida, seventeen students and educators were killed. This marks the 8th school shooting to result in death or injury in the first 7 weeks of 2018. We are shocked and saddened and angry and perhaps a bit incredulous that this can be happening; that it keeps happening. We all agree this is unacceptable. Something has to change. Our children, and the adults who devote their lives to educating them, deserve to be safe in our schools.
But although we can agree change is required, solving this problem is hard. We are repeatedly hung up on differing opinions and perspectives on what the obstacles are and how best to fix them. No one seems willing to risk asking the hard questions, or grappling with different answers, in order to start changing this reality. Children and educators are dying in our schools. We should all be willing to risk engaging in difficult conversations and making hard choices to prevent it from happening again.
My own self, At my very best, All the time…especially when it’s hard.
There are a handful of causes we can point to. In the news, I keep hearing that as one of the primary reasons the United States isn’t making any significant changes. And because it’s hard, and because the subject evokes such strong emotions and because it doesn’t come with a guaranteed fix, we get stuck. Instead of leaning into the hard work, instead of bringing the courage and strength of our very best into this complicated issue, nothing happens.
I believe it is time for action. We need our AYF communities to be courageous and engage in this hard work of creating change. I don’t have the answers to solve this problem, nor do I think any one individual does. But collectively, if we can get past of our fear of what we might need to give and give up in order to prevent another school shooting, and instead bring our best selves into this work, I believe we can make progress. I believe we must make progress. Lives depend on it.
For what it’s worth, here are a few ideas to get started:
1. Educate yourself on this issue, then engage in respectful dialogue as you explore possible solutions, especially those you don’t necessarily agree with:
- Start from a place of sincere inquiry.
- Be willing to learn something new and challenge your own assumptions.
2. Bring your best self to the work of seeking creative solutions. Assume that others are bringing their best selves to the conversation as well.
3. Write and call your representatives and senators about gun laws, student safety and mental health. Let them know it is the right time to start having these hard conversations. Invite them to rise to their best, quickly and courageously, before another school shooting takes place.
We can’t afford to continue to do nothing just because it’s hard. Our children deserve nothing short of our very best.