I will begin by saying this post is not political. But, if we can learn something from the last few days and grow together, that wouldn't be all bad.
This morning during morning meeting the boys were asked to check in to the question, when is it hard for you to feel empathy or support for someone? I was somewhat surprised as I saw many of them sign in using the word "hate"? Examples) "when I hate somebody", "Somebody I hate". One of the boys then asked me, "Ms Goggin, do you hate anyone?" I took a moment to quickly bring myself back to my 6th grade self before answering this question. While I recall great friendships and fun in middle school, I do recall the day to day drama and unkind behaviors that were present at good ole Dartmouth Middle. I recall being "in love" with someone one day and thinking they were "such a jerk" the next. I recall the revolving door of friendships too. I am not sure if I truly hated anyone then, but certainly I had dislike at times for people. But now?
After placing myself in their shoes and weighing out what hate likely means to them, I responded to my students explaining that I in fact don't hate anyone. They of course challenged me and said I had to answer that way. Yes, their are times we have to tell a white lie or two, but honestly? I couldn't think of anyone in my mind that I feel that strongly about. In fact, I can't think of that many people in this world I even dislike. I went on to explain to my 12 year old friends that over time I have learned to release this kind of energy from my life relationships. That I part from relations that cause too much strain or pain. I also told them that it is important that when someone acts a way that is hurtful or unkind to consider the why. Is something else going on in their life that is causing them to act in way that is uncharacteristic? Is the reason they are acting this way because they don't know better?
Before I knew it I was sharing with them the story of Amanda Lindhout, who I had the pleasure of hearing speak at IBSC Conference this summer. While I have yet to read her book, A House in the Sky, she spoke about the book and her story in length during her keynote address. Sharing her experiences during her 15 months in captivity and her journey to forgiveness as she cannot bear to live with the hate. The boys connected this story to what they know of Nelson Mandela in the end. It was a pretty powerful 20 minutes.