On Friday night in Singapore, I saw a few posts here and there about what had happened in Newton, Connecticut. I didn't look it up as I'd had my own terrible day and just needed to lay down and wish it away. But on Saturday morning when I woke up, my Facebook and other sources of media online were drenched with the tears and blood of what happened in Newton. I read what I could handle, watched the news reports that I could stomach and then thought and thought about what happened. I posted my shock and horror and support for the victims on my Facebook. I talked about what happened with my friend and fellow teacher and then I thought and thought some more. Over the last few days I've seen speeches, tributes and more reports (I refuse to watch any that bring fame to the man who did what he did), and I've thought some more.
Today I knew that I wanted to write about this topic, I just didn't know what I wanted to write. As I've discussed this tragedy with others, I thought about how angry I was that this man was able to get a gun (although from what I understand, they were legally purchased), then I thought about how angry that he made it into a school (but anyone would or could have buzzed him in, as I understand his parent worked there), then I thought about how angry I was in general that this happened. But my anger had no where to go... and I didn't want let useless anger stew in my heart.
So I moved on to the sadness. I was so so so sad that so many lost their lives. I was sad that schools and students and teachers around the world will never be the same. I was sad that we as a society failed those people that day and the man who took their lives (we failed to help him through whatever took him to the place where he felt this was all he could do). I was sad for his family that will carry the stigma of being related to him for generations to come. I was sad for the families of the innocently killed because they will never have a why or a last good bye. I was, quite simply, sad. But that sadness had no where to go and having it in my heart was no more helpful than the anger.
As I thought more, I thought about how I had the power to bring change. I thought about the knowledge I have in my heart and hanging all over my apartment about the kind of life I want to lead and the characteristics I want to share with the world as a teacher and a human being. I thought about how, if I could lead my life in this way (picture coming... don't worry) and teach it to others, then maybe... just maybe I could help the next generation be a generation that cares for each other, seeks to love each other, and lift each other up instead of one that celebrates criminals and crimes and mimics killing each other on the playgrounds. Maybe I'm a dreamer... but in the words of a wise man... but I'm not the only one.
What rules/advice am I talking about? I'm talking about the Seven Advices for living by the famous poet Rumi, also known as Mevlana. They are so simple but if we all strived to accomplish them in our own right, then perhaps our world would be a little better... maybe.
And maybe if we all responded to life, both good and bad, by following this advice, we'd have less tragedy. I'm not an expert and I don't know if it would work but I know that right now I'm choosing to practice this... and I'm hoping it helps me and others.