In Your Corner: Rachel’s challenge, our challenge

As I write this, I am wearing black. It is the national day of mourning for all of the youth who were gunned down at Virginia Tech.

We trust that their souls are at peace, but it has created some anxiety among our youth here. They want to know if anything has ever happened like that here before. The answer is no.

According to Officer Paul Applegate, this has not happened that anyone can recall on Kaua’i.

The shield of aloha reaches everywhere, and I am aware of many organizations on Kaua’i that especially extend this to the keiki here.

At a recent anger management class, I asked the students why they attacked their victims, and what need they were trying to fulfill. Every student without exception stated that they wanted their victims to respect them.

When I asked them if they actually did get respect, and got their needs fulfilled, all said, “No,” except for one girl, who said, “Yes.”

This girl attacked another girl physically because her victim had done something disrespectful to her friend. I asked her if she liked the consequences … coming to Teen Court, taking classes, bringing her family embarrassment, etc., and then she said, “No,” that wasn’t what she wanted.

Later in the class I was teaching them to identify in advance what presses their anger buttons, so they can have a plan on how to respond before they get into the emotion of the actual event.

One of the students said, “I don’t like people to rat on me.” They all stated that it triggered them. The student went on to say that he wouldn’t have gotten into trouble if someone hadn’t ratted on him.

I told him that if he hadn’t broken the law, he wouldn’t have to worry about getting into trouble. But he never seemed to take responsibility for what he did.

In response to my statement another girl said, “You know Ms., everyone needs to mind their own business.” I stated that it wasn’t all right to hurt another person.

She stated that eventually “others” would take care of it, and he’d be hurting. I continued, “So it just keeps getting bigger and bigger until someone shoots 32 students and himself.”

“Oh Ms., that person had a point, and it was at a school.” I reminded her that 90 percent of the students at the table were busted at school.

We must continue to tell our friends, our parents and our children that it is not okay to hurt each other, either physically (assault, domestic abuse) or mentally (harassment, terroristic threatening).

We must teach our children that everyone has needs, and it is all right to have them, but not at the expense of hurting another unless in self-defense from a physical attack only.

After 9/11, or Columbine, or other dark events, it appears that there is a great outpouring of light, as if to balance the darkness.

People gather together to pray, to remember love, to comfort the grieving, and reach for sense in the insane. And goodness and light respond.

At the Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon about a month ago, Darrell Scott was a featured speaker.

His daughter, Rachel was the first victim gunned down at Columbine. She was an extraordinary girl who was close to her creator.

For years she had asked to be used by ‘Him’ to teach millions to be more peaceful and compassionate. She lived a compassionate life, often stopping bullying from happening, and befriending the lonely. Please check out her Web site at www.rachelschallenge.org

Scott has recently moved to Kaua‘i. I asked him if it would be all right to quote from Rachel’s “challenge” for this column, and he said yes. I’m going to share it with you. It is a paper that she wrote before her death.

May it help inspire you to continue to build the shield of aloha around this tiny planet. Read it to your parents, your children, your teachers, and maybe it will inspire them too.

‘My Ethics,

My Codes of Life’

Rachel Scott, period 5

“Ethics vary with environment, circumstances, and culture. In my own life ethics play a major role. Whether it was because of the way I was raised, the experiences I’ve had, or just my outlook on the world and the way things should be. My biggest aspects of ethics include being honest, compassionate, and looking for the best and beauty in everyone.

“I have been told repeatedly that I trust people too easily, but I find that when I put my faith and trust in people when others would not dare to, they almost never betray me. I would hope that people would put that same faith in me. Trust and honesty is an investment you put in people; if you build enough trust in them and show yourself to be honest, they will do the same in you. I value honesty so much, and it is an expectation I have of myself. I will put honesty before the risk of humiliation, before selfishness, and before anything less worthy of the Gospel truth.

“Even in being honest and trust worthy, I do not come off cold and heartless. Compassion and honesty go hand in hand, if enough of each is put into every situation. I admire those who trust and are trust worthy.

“Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer. According to Webster’s Dictionary compassion means a feeling of sympathy for another’s misfortune. My definition of compassion is forgiving, loving, helping, leading, and showing mercy for others. 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. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.

“It wasn’t until recently that I learned that the first and the second and the third impressions can be deceitful of what kind of person someone is. For example, imagine you had just met someone, and you speak with them three times on brief everyday conversations. They come off as a harsh, cruel, stubborn, and ignorant person.

“You reach your judgment based on just these three encounters. Let me ask you something…did you ever ask them what their goal in life is, what kind of past they came from, did they experience love, did they experience hurt, did you look into their soul and not just at their appearance? Until you know them and not just their ‘type,’ you have no right to shun them. You have not looked for their beauty, their good. You have not seen the light in their eyes. Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help it grow, if you don’t walk away from those three impressions first.

“I am sure that my codes of life may be very different from yours, but how do you know that trust, compassion, and beauty will not make this world a better place to be in and this life a better one to live? My codes may seem like a fantasy that can never be reached, but test them for yourself, and see the kind of effect they have in the lives of people around you. You just may start a chain reaction.”

• Annaleah Atkinson is the Teen Court manager for Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i. She can be reached at aatkin-son@haleopio.org, or Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i Inc., 2959 Umi St., Lihu‘e, 96766.

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