WE NEED YOU…THEY NEED YOU
By Doris AC Johnson MA of Psy, ABA
When I was a teacher, I had good days and not-so-good days. The best days were when they became adults, and reached back out to me. I won’t lie, I had my “favorites.” However, every update was treated as treasured gold. One communication stood out to me. A former student sent me a message telling me had it not been for me, he would have never gone to college. I was surprised that I had that impact on him. That’s proof that you never know the effects you have on someone else. And these young people need that every day.
Last week, my daughter called me to tell me the news that I wish I didn’t have to hear. The very same student that sent me that heart-warming message is now serving a life sentence for murder. This young man who was always well-mannered, and neat, and respectful had ruined his life over something as senseless as taking the life of a young man who was dating his now ex-girlfriend. I hate that.
His actions sprung a leak on so many others to come and remain. So many hearts are broken right now. Not just mine, but his family and friends…the deceased family and friends…the ex-girlfriend, and the toddler he left behind who will only be able to love him through a thick bulletproof glass.
While another man may step in and assume the position of a father figure, the access will be limited on many levels. And it breaks my heart. I can go in so many directions explaining my view on this, but I need to stick to what is most important to me. It’s not that my student did not have an active father. I don’t know that. It is that my student didn’t know how to stop and think and defuse the situation. The point is that he perhaps was not taught to be rational and assume responsibility for his emotional state. It would take a man to do that. And this man doesn’t have to be the biological father or family member. It would take a man to stand up as a man to teach a boy to follow suit. A mother can only do so much. We only understand what we understand and can only teach what we know. The most valuable lesson a boy can learn is how to in fact stand up like a man.
My intention is not to condemn my former student who is now twenty-seven years. I don’t have the right to do that. Only God can be the judger of men. My intention is not to make excuses for him. My intention is to demonstrate how important it is that these young men have healthy outlets. Or look what may become…broken-hearted mothers, people who will never stop remembering what they witnessed on that day, and a child that will one day have to learn what his father did.
The point is this…Men, our young people need you or the suffering will continue to burden the community with boys who never had a fair shot at becoming what the next generation and the next generation and the next generation needs… someone to stop up like a man.