Today’s Daily News featured an article written by Jenice Armstrong discussing the tragic beating and death of Amy Joyner. No doubt you’ve heard the news of this high school student who was beaten to death in the bathroom of a high school in Wilmington. At the beginning of this article, the author shares the lament of an older woman standing by the school as she passed by. “Lord, what are we going to do…what are we going to do?” In this horrific situation, you can almost hear the anguish and heartache of her cry.
Even after I finished the article, those words echoed in my head. What are we going to do? For indeed, as parents and grandparents, as guardians of our youth, all of us must ask ourselves this question. What are we going to do to quell the violence and instill compassion, respect and a sense of value for themselves and others in our young people? Too often, the news greets us with stories that reek of contempt and disregard for the most precious gift of all…life itself.
As a parent and grandparent, an educator and a person who cares deeply about the future of our children, one small suggestion I offer is to tap into the power of literacy. I use the term literacy in the broadest sense here, referring to our ability to read, write, speak and listen. Words empower. As adults we can choose to use words to teach, to heal, to affirm and to touch the hearts and minds of the children we love. Just for today, use some form of literacy to communicate with your child. Read a beautiful story, listen with your heart, write a love note to your child, speak words of affirmation. Then do it again tomorrow! Little by little, literacy can become a formidable weapon against the hatred and violence in our world.
This post is a bit of a departure from normal. Check back for some concrete suggestions about books and activities that can help us instill compassion, respect, courage and a sense of values in our kids. Rest in peace, Amy Joyner!