A Tangible Solution to School Shootings.
I’m a family and marriage therapist who specializes in seeing adolescent and children clients. I’m also a yoga teacher, writer and active member in my community’s Mental Health Coalition. So, I get asked a lot what we can do to prevent more Adam Lanzas and school shootings from happening.
I also frequently come in contact with the broken, the downtrodden, the castoffs and castaways of my town. The children who are picked on, bullied, hit, pushed, spit on, teased. The ones who struggle and suffer daily at the hands of their peers and parents. Who lack and want and don’t really have a fair, equal chance at life. The ones who could become future Adam Lanzas.
So, when I saw that video of the kid passing the ball to his opponent I didn’t just have a few teary-eyed moments at my desk and go about my business. Because in my line of work the kids I see who have developmental disabilities, who are a little awkward, or shy, or too fat, or too thin, or not rich enough—they do not get passed the ball. They get smacked in the face with the ball. Or worse, they don’t even get to see the ball at all because no one notices them, pays attention to them, celebrates them or gives them a chance.
So, when I saw the video I saw a solution—a tangible answer the question posed by so many parents, teachers and community members.
Because here, here is not just one kid, but a coach, a team, a school, a community that sees the brilliance, the potential, the goodness in a child that in so many other places may have fallen prey to bullying, who may have slipped through the cracks. But here, Mitchell Marcus gets to play. He’s celebrated and cheered on and encouraged. He’s passed the ball. And by an opponent. By a child that’s supposed to be his enemy. Who’s supposed to do everything he can to ensures he fails.
And yet, what does Jonathon Montanez do? He puts himself on the line. He forgets what his coach, what his team members, what the cute cheerleader might think and he does the most extraordinary thing—a thing so many adults fail to do.
He gives the kid a chance.
And he’s “just” a teenager. No offense, but most teenagers are self-centered pricks, God love ’em. They can’t help it. Their brains aren’t fully formed, their bodies are coursing with hormones and life is hard and confusing. One wrong step and they become a social pariah.
So, the fact that this kid with his half-formed brain and reputation on the line risks it all by throwing the ball to a kid on another team is incredible to me.
And that, folks, is exactly how we prevent school shootings.
We teach our kids to be compassionate and empathetic. We teach each and every one of them this. And we do it ourselves.
Because every single person deserves a chance. And only when we really know this—only when we really act this out—can we prevent murders and shootings and bullying.
It’s the only way. We have to see the good in every person. We have to pass the ball.
With upmost respect and love to the coach, team members and community in Coronado, Texas. You’ve all taught us such a great lesson. I hope more parents, teachers and kids act as you do. It’d sure make my job easier and the world a much more incredible place.
Sara McKeown is just like every other yogi, except she hates coconut water. When she’s not perfecting her Downward Facing Dog or teaching other people how to perfect theirs, she can be found eating avocados, doodling in her journal, talking with her hands, microwaving her non-dairy ice cream, daydreaming about having Ira Glass’s babies, debating which book to stick her nose in or helping people live their best lives through her work as a counselor and wellness coach. Send her love notes at [email protected] or come along with her on her journey by checking out her blog, My Great Leap.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel