Where there is hope in the face of such tragedy
I t h
Tolerance. It’s something I’ve been examining a lot these days as I consider what is being reported daily by politicians vying for our vote and attention and as I see students carried out from schools on stretchers. I think there is a huge difference between tolerance and accepting or being in agreement.
Following the tragedy that led to the death of 16-year-old girl at her school in Wilmington, Del., I told my children to stand there and let such a thing occur as some of these students did was as wrong as starting the fight. There is a difference in tolerating someone’s beliefs or views and accepting bad behavior as the norm. Tolerance isn’t an excuse to behave poorly, and I regret that I have to explain this to my middle and elementary school students.
How do I teach them that we should show each other love and respect, when as soon as someone doesn’t get what they think they deserve, they respond with an outburst, a protest, a barrage of name-calling and yes, often, physical or terroristic violence.
To say it is commonplace to respond to a disagreement or dislike of someone’s idea or opinion with violence is a gross understatement. Where do we get off deciding it is okay to assert ourselves and our opinions with violence and hatred?
You don’t have to agree with someone to tolerate their beliefs or opinion. You can do that while maintaining your own. And when a law or proposed legislation forces us to agree with something that is firmly against our beliefs, we have the right to lawfully pursue a change of that legislation, legally and peacefully. We are blessed beyond belief to have those rights, and yet we persist in making a mockery of the very system that allowed us those rights.
This time of year we are afforded the opportunity to witness the high school and college graduates who are poised and ready to make a difference in the world. And yet, I wonder how many more graduating classes will feel this way, or will they begin to feel it is pointless to try to effect a change? What kind of example are we making for them?
But there is hope, and where there is hope there is a chance. A chance that we don’t have to stay in this place where we accept this is “just the way things are.” Cameron McCoy is a senior at Easton High School, his words written to classmates and former friends on social media are now going viral, because McCoy had the courage and optimism to stand for what he believes in despite being seen as standing out as the one who is going against the flow. ““What drives me to do what I do is the fact that right now no one else is,” said McCoy.
McCoy, along with seven other students in Maryland, has been chosen to travel to Nicaragua this summer.
“We are learning skills that would allow me to create my own project one day, and initiate plans I have to reshape the world, and rebuild the racial bridges that have been burned over the years,” he said.
He believes in integrity and personal responsibility and in taking every circumstance as a blessing regardless of sex, color, nation of origin or creed. A blessing, an opportunity, a choice ... not a reason to react or justify negative behavior ... a blessing. How wise would we be to take notes on this 17-yearold’s philosophy?
McCoy said he believes the majority of pain people go through is self-inflicted, because we don’t put ourselves in the right place spiritually or emotionally. “I think for me the deciding factor is my faith in God and my faith in humanity. Because I believe humanity will always prevail with God on our side.”
He wants to represent those who are voiceless and opposes those who would use their voice to instigate calamity and not humanity.
I couldn’t agree more. Go with grace.