7.30.2011

Creating A Chain Reaction

   One of the saddest, yet most profound experiences I've had in recent years is my visit last spring to the Columbine Memorial. I didn't actually go there on purpose. I was in Littleton to visit a National School of Character candidate school and had some extra time on my hands, so I found myself driving past Columbine High School. As I approached, I flashed back to that horrible day in history, April 1999; it looked exactly like I had seen it on the national news over and over and over again. I remember it so distinctly because I was home on maternity leave with a newborn, leaving me with a lot of time to be riveted to the television accounts of what was happening.
    I got out of my rental car and went to the front office where they told me that the Memorial was out back, behind the school.  I spent the next chilling hour reading reflections at the Ring of Remembrance, every word more emotionally gripping than the one before, especially in light of the fact that I had a junior and a freshman at home, both of whom could have been any one of those loved ones.  As I slowly progressed along the Wall of Healing, I began to openly grieve and cry uncontrollably.  For the victims. For those who were left behind.  For our youth.  For their stakeholders. For our future.
   But there’s a tragedy-to-triumph piece to this overwhelmingly painful and difficult story, the eventual peace that resulted from a family’s desperate need to keep their child’s memory alive while preventing this sort of devastation from ever happening again. There are quite likely many examples of this, but the one I’m most familiar with is Rachel’s Challenge.  Rachel Scott was one of the victims at Columbine High School that day.  Her sister came to Friendswood Junior High to share her story and, from what I can tell, Rachel was a balcony girl, someone whose positive personality, amazing attitude, and endless energy lifted people up. Suppose it's simply a coincidence that her middle name was Joy? And though her time here on earth was cut short, she continues to make a difference. From the Rachel's Challenge website: We exist to inspire, equip and empower every person to create a permanent positive culture change in their school, business and community by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.  
   Rachel said it herself in her journal writings: I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same. That’s the challenge that this 17-year-old (and now her family on her behalf) put out there for each and every one of us, to spread compassion and create a chain reaction. And in the news this week, some Texas high school students in Seguin joined the millions who have been motivated by Rachel's Challenge to do just that. Oh, and double-dog daring us to add next link.

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