Monday, April 14, 2014

Good From Evil, Look For It

Not always easy to do. We all have to look for that rainbow that comes after the storm or the fact  that it is always darkest before the dawn.  But, how do you do that when you see nothing but hatred and anger behind it...and the heartbreak left behind in the wake?  Amazingly, I have seen that!  

Since starting at the high school I am currently teaching at, I have been some amazing people - some characters and some simply amazing. The most recent part of that "amazing" came to us in the fall through Serve 2 Unite, funded by Arts @ Large.  Both AMAZING organizations. I'll let you read the back stories of both, but it is found in the temple shooting nearly two years ago. 

I was sitting there, quietly working on my kids' headphones for the coming school year in my bedroom, listening to the kids giggle in the living room...when I got the phone call from my FFW next door - from work.  "Where's J? Is he at the temple?!" I literally looked at my phone.  Why was she asking?  She knew it was a shift day, where do you think he is?  Why would he be at a temple?   I had no clue what she was talking about.  I was watching Oddities and clearly oblivious. "Oh, my god, you don't know."

And my heart dropped.  The tone in her voice.  I hit the news explosion that was upon us and couldn't breathe for a moment.  I studied the rigs, looking for Med 7.  This was the day I learned the difference between those red boxes - MFD has the zig zag gold on the side.  I remember seeing the images...burning them in my mind.  There is one of Pardeep's brother, Armadeep that haunted me.

It is as clear as day.  Even in the dark of this sleepless night. 

As I said earlier, you have to look for that first ray of sunlight that comes out of that darkness.  Luckily, I didn't have to look it found me.  Through Serve 2 Unite.  

Love and acceptance out tragedy, heartache and hatred.

Six lives were lost.  Pardeep's father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, the president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin was among the casualties. Countless others, rocked to their very core.  Anger and bitterness would have made total sense for the families involved.  NO ONE would have faulted them,. Instead, they turned that heartache into a chance to mend broken hearts and bring an end to senseless violence and hatred.  Through the amazing initiative of a grieving family and a repentant skin head.

Pardeep and Arno.  They are the most amazing odd couple you have ever seen.   I have to admit, I spent much of the first meeting with them trying to figure things out...who fit where, how this ACTUALLY came to fruition...and don't remember much of the actual discussion in our little social studies department. When Arno came to speak to the Sociology class, I brought my World History kids in as well.  His message was worth sacrificing a day of content.  Watching my kids, who didn't quite trust me at that point, listen to this big, raspy voiced man share is tale of hate mongering, with these kids who are all too familiar with it, was AMAZING.  Instant defensiveness.  One of my big guys refused to sit on the same side of this monstrous room.  Another actually commented to me, "You really want me to listen to this sh!t?".  They could not wrap their heads around it.  Experience has taught them that leopards don't change their spots.  And here was this perceived monster who had a swastika tattooed to his middle finger...and I was asking them to listen to him.

Fast forward to this past Friday.  When my kids, 75 kids from so many different paths of life, converged on one of our southside neighborhoods to do Community Mapping, not only with S2U, but also with UWM's Urban Initiatives & Research, to determine through analysis of data, what we can do to make a difference in that neighborhood.  Watching these same kids who did not think Arno was worth  giving up my elaborate notes for...was AMAZING!  The smiles that Pardeep brought to my kids.  And my FF working with a group that was so diligently trying to update their Neighborhood Safety map, made me smile. 

It was an amazing transformation.  In so many ways.  From that skeptical group of kids in October...from that group of kids that was SO uncomfortable THAT morning, because I separated them from their friends and asked some of them to this group this community of amazing kids, working together SO amazingly! It made my heart happy.  

Good from evil.  I didn't have to look for it.  It found me.

Photo credit: Serve 2 Unite

Photo credit: Serve 2 Unite

Why would I post the serious pictures?

It was an amazing day.  Seeing me kids leave their comfort zones within their peer group and into unknown groupings - begging me to change them - and move out into the community to reach out a seek to make it better.  This would not have happened this way had it not been for the tears falling to water such a beautiful, life filled group.  
Please know, I am not saying that I am glad that it happened.  It woke me up in the middle of the night, hence this post.  I am, however, grateful, that hate did not turn into hate.  Instead, into spreading a message of love and tolerance.  And, I am indeed blessed to have been a witness to it.

My husband has been permanently temporarily assigned to the TEMS house - another creation in response to the tragedy of the that fatal day in August 2012.  If, God forbid, we were to see an event of that level, I won't have to wonder if he is there.  He will be there, presuming his formal assignment comes to be.  Instead of watching to see if there, I will be finding something productive to do, hoping for that phone call when all is said and done.  

I will be looking for that break of dawn to get me through the worry that will accompany such events.  We have to look for that ray of helps lead us to tomorrow, no matter how dark the night has been.  My kids are my ray of sunshine.  Be sure to find yours.

Peace and love.

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