Another two horrible acts of violence over the weekend, one in Pakistan and another in Iraq. As you have also, I have read about way too many of these stories over the last several years (acknowledging that even one is too much). My emotional progression is always the same:
- Fear: What if this happened here? What if someone I love was hurt, or worse?
- Grounded: It does not matter where it happens, it is completely unacceptable. Violence happening over there is not any better than violence happening here to a loved one of mine. We are all people with families and loved ones, with a right to life and the pursuit of happiness. For anyone to have that taken from them by the act of someone else is unforgivable.
- Rage: Then, I experience rage- pure rage that someone else would commit an act like the ones this weekend. It even spurs brief desires of retaliation while my fists are clenched.
- Reality: Finally, I calm down and realize that the desire to retaliate through violence makes me no better than these murderers. Then something weird happens... I feel sorry for those murderers. Obviously I feel absolutely horrible for the victims and their families, but I then realize that no human in the right state of mind brought up in a nurturing and positively supportive environment would ever want to commit an act like this upon another human. The fact that they bought into an ideology that promotes violence instead of harmony and compassion is beyond tragic. If they could have just had one positive influence to help them see that their life could be about so much more, to help them gain the confidence to step out for a good cause and avoid this kind of violence... What if?
While this violence over the weekend occurred far away, we are not immune to this by any means here in the US. The amount of school shootings and public violence are incredibly high, with our death through violence numbers in the US far exceeding those of other countries with similar levels of development/socioeconomic status. What can we do? How can we change course?
Our actions are a result of (a) our internal mentality, and (b) our environment. We are influenced strongly by both, so how can we help everyone, especially students, have the mentality and environment to help them live a fulfilling life that benefits themselves and others?
When schools do not promote individual strengths and interests, a student's education and environment outside of school has to provide the life skills education they need to establish their values, develop strong character, and build the courage and confidence to go pursue their goals. When students (and people) find something that excites them and creates intrinsic motivation, they will be willing to develop their life skills and leadership skills. They also are way more likely to avoid behavior and even people that do not support their ultimate goals.
How can we help more students find their passions? Let's ask questions! And let's make sure to ask them with an open mind! Some sample questions could be:
- What motivates you?
- What gets you excited?
- When are you happiest?
- Who is/are your role model(s) and why?
- When you picture yourself in (1,3,5, or 10) years, what would your ideal life look like?
- What is your dream career?
Encourage them to pursue anything positive that gets them excited, knowing that even if they ultimately don't establish a career or lifelong habit in that area, at least they will begin to understand what it takes to achieve something special.
We want to help students all over the world find what makes them tick, what gets them excited, and give them the tools and support they need to go achieve their greatest aspirations. The more leaders we have accomplishing amazing feats that help others and provide personal fulfillment, the more we will shift our global environment to be a positive influence, promoting virtuous actions, not destructive violence. We ask you to please help us by doing your part to spread life skills education all over the world!