This week in central Oregon, two teenagers took their own lives.
From what I understand, there was bullying involved. This is not okay—it is beyond heartbreaking. However, bullying, harassment, and assault are things that are far too commonplace in this society and culture—along with a startling lack of empathy and compassion. People are simply not caring what happens to other people—either overtly, or even passively.
In this age of social media, it’s really easy to become absorbed in your own world, detached from what is happening around you. Social media is great for connecting with people across the world and providing information—but it can also grossly misrepresent what is actually happening in people’s lives and draw people away from actually engaging in a genuine way.
I post a lot of inspirational music in an effort to spread love and healing, but I’ve also dealt with serious depression and despair. Over a year ago, I was laid off from my full-time job teaching preschool music to children, which was devastating on multiple levels. I also ended a relationship two years ago with my significant other, and I continue to make an effort to find healing and spiritual growth. I continue to seek opportunities to actually play music in a live setting, where people come specifically to listen—not to drink and talk, which so far has proven to be very difficult.
Instead of succumbing to fear and anger, however, I have chosen to embrace love and forgiveness. It is not always easy, but I think it’s the only way to rise above the adversity in our lives and not get drawn into it.
I’m guilty of being on social media as much as anyone—and it’s been very helpful in many respects. Still, I think it’s important to pause and think about how it also detracts from our quality of life—to ask what void are we trying to fill with Facebook, Netflix, or whatever social media/entertainment platform we’re using.
I was thinking of those two children last night—and whatever demons they were struggling with. I understand what it means to feel deep despair and hopelessness. For my part, I have chosen to love myself, regardless of what I’m experiencing and regardless of the adversity or perceived obstacles I’m facing. I also belong to a strong spiritual community here in Bend, Oregon, which has been really supportive. Not everyone is so fortunate. I’m also incredibly grateful to have the gift of music.
Music is a language of love. Music is deeply healing and cathartic. I was thinking the other day, what should we be teaching to our children? What values should we be instilling in them? What behavior are we modeling? How are we treating each other? Are we actually there for each other in the real world or just in the imaginary Facebook land?
I wrote this song last night, thinking about those two children who left far too soon. I did not know them personally. I don’t even know their families—but that’s not important. What is important is that we are all human beings, who are capable of practicing empathy, compassion, and love. It matters what happens to other people.
(C) 2017 by Victor Johnson
Teach your children to love the earth
Show them a bit of their infinite worth
Scale great mountains and sail the sea
Oh, let them be, happy and free
Sing to the morning the song of your heart
Don’t let them tear your dreams all apart
You’re a beautiful butterfly, just wait and see
Wait and see, wait and see
Teach me to lay my defenses down
Help me to swim while I’m learning to drown
Make me feel so wonderful
Take my hand, love you’re not alone
I’m just a child though I have grown
Sing me back home again, soft and slow
Soft and slow, soft and slow
Author: Victor Johnson
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis