I am a happy person.
I am cheerful. I am bubbly. I am positive. I am optimistic.
But sometimes, I am sad.
Sometimes, I cry. Sometimes, I hurt. Sometimes, I have a hard time smiling.
And now is one of those times.
As many of you know, I am über-passionate about issues of social justice and making the world a better place. Without exaggeration, that is my life's work.
Recently, my community has been affected by a tragedy. From what I understand, a group of young people was outside of a late-night pizza place when a car pulled up, people got out, and one of the young men standing on the sidewalk was murdered.
One of my good friends was friends with the victim, and it hurts me to see her sad. And, I am very saddened for the young man and his family, especially his sister who I had in class.
But I am also sad for everyone else involved. The three people implicated in the murder - two of whom are now in jail - are students or former students of my school, and one - I just discovered today - is the brother of one of my dearest students, a girl who has already experienced enough tragedy in her life. Yes, these young men are still alive, but if they are convicted, their lives will effectively be over.
I am having trouble putting into words exactly what I am feeling. Every time I think about the situation, I want to cry. Every time I drive down the street and see the student's picture on the billboard as wanted for first-degree murder, I want to cry. Talking to my student today, I nearly did cry. Sitting here writing this now, I am crying.
It hurts me so much to know that kids who I passed in the hallway, kids with whom I shared space, committed such an unfathomable act. No, I am not scared, and no, I do not feel unsafe; rather, I am simply incredibly sad.
I just want to understand why people resort to certain actions, why people do what they do, why people do not see that there are other options for whatever issues they are battling.
Most of all, though, I want to know what to do so that this does not happen to my students in the future, so that my kids are safe, so that they don't get trapped into thinking there is no way out. And I think the reason that I am so, so sad and that this is affecting me so, so much is that I just don't know what to do.
How am I supposed to teach them that there is a way out of the cycle? How am I supposed to show them that there is hope for their future? I am not from their community. I have not experienced the life that they have lived. I don't understand the issues that they are facing. Really, the only thing I do understand is just how unfair life is.
I feel helpless.
But, I am not hopeless.
I will be strong for my students, and I will do the best that I can do.
But I can still be sad.