Chain Reaction – “I Have This Theory… “

The Chain Reaction

This week I was on the Internet scrolling through a site that posts national news stories when I came across a photo of three teenage girls. Two of them were pointing and making fun of the third, who had her back turned away from them with her head lowered in shame or sadness. Even though the photo may have been staged to emulate the hurt that can come from bullying, I was very sad and bothered by the image as it depicted, rather well, the pain and loneliness that can occur following such acts.

Unfortunately, there are many who do not live by a code of ethics designed to include and support others regardless of their differences, and as a result those affected by such cruelty have to deal with the emotional trial of not feeling like they fit in or belong. I believe all of us, at one time or another, have to deal with the bully mentality, and whether or not we participate by supporting or condemning the action we play a part in these perpetuating acts. And depending on just how we choose to use our voice regarding this subject can tell much about our personal code of ethics and who we stand to be.

This afternoon in church I sat and listened to a young girl tell about a high school assembly program she attended a few days earlier. The program is a national anti-bullying campaign called “Rachel’s Challenge.” It is named after Rachel Scott, who was the first of twelve students and one teacher gunned down in one of this nation’s most violent school massacres that took place on April 20th, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Shortly after these senseless killings occurred, an essay was discovered that seventeen-year-old Rachel had written approximately six weeks earlier, titled “My Ethics, My Code of Life.” The writing was the voice of an honest and compassionate individual who desired to look for the best in others. She stated, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.” With a desire to stop the cycle of violence, Rachel’s family started Rachel’s Challenge, the non-profit organization that brings a powerful message to over a million students each year, and through a five-step challenge brings tools for change to those who choose to abide by it.

The first challenge in the five steps is to “look for the best in others and eliminate prejudice.” Basically, the students are encouraged to recognize and deal with their own prejudices as well as intolerance from others. Would one pluck a rose and discard it like a weed, not recognizing the fact that it is a beautiful rose? Rachel stated that, “Until you know them and not just their type, you have no right to shun them.” My question then would be, “How many are out there believing that they are weeds because words have made them feel less of themselves?” It is an important subject, especially when self-esteem and self-worth can be so connected to how others view themselves.

Another area the challenge addresses is the need to choose positive influences in one’s life. Being a mother with two teenage sons, I have seen both good and bad influences with friends my children have chosen to associate with. I also understand how difficult it is for our youth to identify those who can do harm when it is so important to belong. There is a definite connection with association and influence, and we need to help our children to find those friends who will encourage strong morals and ethics while being kind to those who do not. Being kind regardless of how one is treated can be a life-altering skill and is worth the effort to embed such action within one’s character.

Rachel Scott was a young girl who understood the importance of treating all who she encountered with respect and compassion. The fact that she was randomly killed by two classmates who had decided to get revenge on society for the bullying they felt they had been victim to brings greater irony to her message of tolerance. A while after Rachel’s death, her family found a message that she had scribbed on the back of a dresser when she was only thirteen. Inside the outline of her hands she wrote, “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts.” It is now the chain reaction from what she started and that her family and friends carry forward that affects millions of students each year. A chain reaction brought on by a young girl’s code of ethics that has proven the power of one voice designed to include and support others regardless of their differences.

In Other’s Words:

“You will never reach higher ground if you

are always pushing others down.”

~Jeffrey Benjamin~

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