Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is There Hope?

This past week there has been much heartache & loss in my community. A young middle-school student was found dead by a teacher and a group of students. She had apparently hung herself from the bleachers.

There has been much speculation in news stories & social media about what may have driven this young lady to end her precious life. Lots of discussions about bullying in schools.

I didn't know the girl or her family. But as a parent, my heart breaks for them. I can't begin to imagine what her family must be going through. What goes on in the mind of a young teenager (or anyone) that leads them to conclude suicide is better than life? That tomorrow will not be any better?

Adolescence has never been easy. But kids today face things that were unimaginable when I was their age. Bullies prey on those who are often the most vulnerable. Children with special needs, kids that are overweight, kids who, for whatever reason, are perceived to be different, are most often the target. And it occurs not only at school--use of social media is ubiquitous. Cruelty can be exponentially viewed and shared by thousands of people.

Kids are exposed to things they shouldn't see and hear. Oftentimes, they are forced to grow up much too soon.  I would argue we cannot overstate the impact of Hollywood & the entertainment industry's obsession with 'perfect people,' sexuality, and violence have on our children. Kids will compare themselves to the images they see.

Today's families have unprecedented challenges. Economic uncertainty, financial strain, infidelity, greed, self-destructive behaviors, divorce, and shifting values and morals are re-shaping our cultural identity. Once a prominent place in American life, the Christian faith is now relegated to some long-forgotten shelf of yesteryear. So many perfidious things compete for our time, money, and interest.

We not the same country we once were. Some will say that's a good thing. I'm not so sure. We are today, undoubtedly, more jaded, skeptical, and cynical.

I recently read that many of us now no longer believe in the American Dream. Many in my age group that believe their children will not do as well as we have. Although many would never verbalize it, a lot of people believe that our best days are behind us. We are constantly bombarded by news stories confirming our worst fears. An unsettling despondency plagues many hearts and families. Hope seems to be on the extinction list.

Hope is not something tangible you can hold in your hands. Although it can't be seen or physically touched, it is nonetheless 'real.'  Hope, much like faith, is something that you must believe in. And if one has lost all hope, life becomes a burden. A burden that sometimes becomes too much to keep carrying. Hope is a precious commodity that is needed now more than ever. Although it may seem to be a limited resource, it is renewable and sustainable.

Our children need to believe their future is bright. They need to have hope. They need to believe that each passing day leads to better things. If, as adults, we do not believe such things, our children are perceptive enough to know. Our mentality becomes theirs. Our hopelessness is contagious.

As a parent, a neighbor, a community, and as our 'brother's keeper,' we should understand and empathize with the pain and turmoil that occurs in the lives of many in our midst, often silently and unspoken. We need to demonstrate concern and love, and intervene before tragic events happen.

Is there hope? I am compelled and persuaded to believe the answer is, simply, yes. Life is way too miraculous, precious, fragile, and short to concur otherwise. We cannot let fear, doubt and evil triumph. Events like what happened this week in my town, in which a precious 14 year old young lady deliberately ends her own life, should not become commonplace. Kids need to know that someone cares.

Psalms 34:24


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About Me

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I work for a Community-Based, Not-for-Profit agency. I have worked in the disability field for over twenty-five years. I am the father of two boys, and have been married to my teenage sweet-heart for 23 years. I live and work in the same town where I was born & raised.
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