It's been a trying time in Connecticut since the Newtown tragedy. As we all try to come to terms with how and why this could have happened, I am equally concerned of how and why this could happen again in the future. As the gun debate rages on, I can't help but venture into another direction of thought. I often wonder if the problems we endure as a society stem from individuals feeling disconnected. For some years now, I have led a group of middle-schoolers in a program called Go Far. The program is simple. We exercise together so we can feel better individually. From week to week, I devise group workouts that focus on strengthening each person emotionally and physically. No one is ever left out of the activity. We have become a bit of a rag tag crew. Some will be our varsity leaders in sport while other may be happiest at the intramural level. Either way, these kids are connected. Despite their differences, they are a team. When they walk down the hall, they have been taught to make eye contact with each other and say hello. No one should feel alone or defeated. To carry it further, these kids also know that if they need an adult to listen to them, their Go Far mentor will listen no matter what their dilemma. I know their is no one answer to prevent tragedies, but I do believe that it starts with a community that is watching and listening. These days, Congress seems to spend its time trying to figure out how to reel in "We The People". I have found my own little enclave of "We the people, for the people" in a bunch of middle-school kids. My personal answer starts by opening doors and building assets, rather than letting them swing shut. It's best not to constantly define rules, boundaries and expectations, good people will define these themselves and pass them on to their peers.
From what I have gathered, a middle-school minded Constitution could look something like this: (It probably applies to most grown-ups too)
We want to speak, be seen and be heard.
We want to be every-day heroes.
We want to participate.
We want to do our best and get credit for it.
We need responsibility.
Broken laws can lead you to losing your seat at the lunch table.
We need authority: leaders and followers are both essential and they are usually discovered in the playground.
We still have a somewhat pure view of the world, even if we're becoming more skeptical.
We know the difference between right and wrong. Whoever influences us, defines this.
How can you help in your community? It has been said that anyone who volunteers, never feels lonely. I encourage you to Go Far for the people of your community.