Thursday, April 15, 2010

THE CHALLENGE OF CHALLENGES

On Monday night, Saint Michael's College hosted Rachel's Challenge in the Ross Sports Center. Now believe me, I have witnessed some powerful speakers and I have attended life-changing conferences, but none of them compared to the witness talk from Rachel Scott's father on Monday night. Rachel Scott was the first student shot in the Columbine High School Massacre, but before she left, she recorded her goals in a diary, which left a lasting legacy - a few words that would inspire millions including myself. In one of her last papers, Rachel wrote about the importance of spreading kindness and making a positive impact on the world. Rachel's father Darrel, in his witness talk, challenged attendees to a few things:

1. Stop Prejudice (the act of judging those before you know who they really are)
2. Write down your goals
3. Commit to kindness and peace

I have thought about and reflected upon the act of judgment a lot here at Saint Michael’s College. In high school, judging others was part of life. My friends and I constantly talked about others, made fun of others, and even sent each other embarrassing pictures we took of people who looked or acted differently than we did. Some of my friends idolized the girls of the movie Mean Girls, which led to that label sticking to some by the victims of our efforts. In retrospect, much of my behavior was despicable and inappropriate. Towards the end of the year, I found out that I was on a “hit list” of a fellow student. My personal safety was in danger because I let myself become someone I truly was not. Rachel was different. She strived to be friends with the lower of the social chain. When others looked away, Rachel stood up. A story that really hit home with me was a story of Rachel approaching a girl in a cafeteria who was sitting alone, sat, and ate lunch with her. So many times, I have mocked and teased those who sat by themselves, why did I not have the power to step up and reach out a helping hand? Monday night I committed myself to a new way of life – I committed myself to reaching out my hand not to point a finger, but rather to help.

Along with this goal to be a better person, I was also inspired to write down other goals. Rachel, in diaries and journals, wrote down her goals and because they were written down, she was constantly reminded and was able to achieve them. This blog is my journal – a window into my heart and soul, it will now be the home of my written goals.

Goal #1 – Take every bit of every opportunity given to me in the coming months and year, do my best, and make a difference in as many lives as possible.

Goal #2 – Show my parents that Saint Michael’s College is the place where I can evolve into a proactive adult citizen of the United States of America. I was fortunate enough to have parents that are the main financers of my college education, and it is now time for me to show them why I need to be here.

Goal #3 – Be a better student and learn how to balance all my volunteer programs with my academics.

These are my three goals, three goals that I will work hard to achieve not only for me, but also for the people around me and in Rachel’s memory. I challenge you, as Darrel challenged me, to write down your goals and do everything you can to achieve them.

The last part of the presentation Monday night was a commitment to spreading kindness and peace. At the end of the talk, Darrel had a few more challenges for attendees. The first was to admit that there was someone we needed to forgive in our lives. For me, it was a friend I had not talked to in months and immediately upon returning to my dorm, I began a continuous dialogue dedicated to repairing my friendship with her. Whom do you need to forgive? What do you need to let off your shoulders to let you be at peace? Let it go. It is okay to be scared to forgive or not want to forgive those who may have hurt you, but only through atonement comes absolute peace. Next, Darrel challenged us to think of people we were grateful for and challenged us to let them know we loved them and were grateful for them. Who are you grateful for? Whom do you love, but have not told them lately? It is never too late to let these people know that you love them and thank them for being there for you. Finally, we were challenged to commit ourselves to living like Rachel did – a challenge to live a life committed to kindness. I forward this challenge to you. Live your life with kindness. Be there for people, love people, and be beacons of light on a cloudy day.

Peace, love, and hugs
Josh


In Loving Memory of 
Rachel Scott 
April 20, 1999







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