Fall is traditionally a time of transition. As we watch the leaves on the trees change color we find that transformation is all around us. We continue to struggle with the effects of a global pandemic while educators and students begin a new school year, and an important election looms. We have all been forced outside our comfort zone by current events, but the silver lining is that we have moved into a place of growth, personally and also in the world. Today, we have a tremendous opportunity to define that growth and create the world we want to live in!
We are all living, and a few of us are even writing, the autobiography of our life. We may delineate chapters as years or major events. We can’t always determine how those chapters start. I would never have chosen to have my six-year-old son murdered in his first grade classroom. We collectively would never have chosen a global pandemic. These chapters were started for us. But we can choose the ending by how we thoughtfully respond to these events. When we respond with love, we take our personal power back and this positive effect ripples out and makes the world a better place!
What do we want in our lives? What is our ultimate goal? We want to flourish and have peace within ourselves and in our world. Peace takes effort and it begins with the individual. Ultimately it is a choice when we learn social and emotional intelligence. We are not born with these essential life skills, they must be taught. This includes how to have healthy relationships and meaningful connections, and how to manage emotions, be resilient and make responsible decisions.
September 21 is United Nations International Day of Peace. This year’s theme is: “Shaping Peace Together.” The United Nations encourages people to celebrate by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of COVID-19 and to stand together with the UN against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred. The opposite of peace is conflict, dissatisfaction, disturbance and gloom. Peace starts within ourselves by conscious choices that we make.
Peace is important to me, especially after my young son’s murder. I chose peace through love. The want and need to love and be loved is what connects us all as human beings regardless of real or perceived differences. Much of the chaos in the world stems from lack of love. My young son, Jesse, left a powerful message on our kitchen chalkboard shortly before he died: ‘Norturing Helinn Love’ (Nurturing Healing Love).The words were phonetically spelled because he was in first grade and just learning to write, but the meaning to me was clear. If his shooter had been able to give and receive ‘nurturing healing love’ the tragedy would never have happened. Those three words are in the definition of compassion across all cultures. Love is synonymous with peace. Both are a choice when we are socially and emotionally intelligent.
Once again, we are honored to participate in Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation’s #BeKind21 challenge that encourages people to build a habit of kindness and be committed to creating a kinder, braver, and more just world in 2020 and beyond. Join us in this endeavor, there’s power in numbers.
In addition, the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement is committed to fostering social and emotional intelligence worldwide in our children and adults to cultivate peace. We launched a new school-based program called Choosing Love in Our Brave New World. This program is trauma-informed and infused with social and emotional wellness to meet educators and their students where they are when they return to school this fall. The goal is to teach skills and tools to bring everyone back to baseline where they can learn a powerful formula that can lead them to choosing love and flourishing in their lives.
Love and peace are choices that we make every day. Choosing love benefits you and everyone around you. Through the ripple effect it radiates throughout the world. We have a unique opportunity right now to create the world we want to live in. Famous anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” You are that thoughtful citizen, and together we can create a world where we stand together in harmony and choose love and peace over anger and fear.