"Show them all the beauty they possess inside" is a line from the song "The Greatest Love of All" written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed originally recorded by George Benson and later popularized by the late Whitney Houston. I vividly remember accompanying on the piano many high school and Hal Jackson's Talented Teen talent show contestants who chose this song as his/her competition piece in the late 70's and early 80's and by now I am sure most if not all have heard one rendition or another of the inspirational ballad.
If you are an educator reading this post, I believe you will particularly relate to it and even if you are not an educator it ought to resonate with you as well. The impetus for this post is the worst nightmare for those of us who are in education. We as educators work with thousands of children over the course of a career and it is always our hope that these children will one day become productive members of society. It is our hope that we can learn of, read about, or have a child who has made a success of him/herself come back and visit us letting us know how they have fared in life. To that point, as a school principal myself, to this day I still keep in touch with my second grade teacher, Mrs. Elma Royster and many others such as Fran Kubian, Marilyn DiMartino, and Peter Nelson who impacted my life as a student and as a person. Mrs. Royster was present at my fiftieth birthday party last August proudly letting everyone know that she had taught me as a second grader.
Then there is the other end of the spectrum which is what this post is about and that is when we as educators learn of the premature deaths of students we have taught or have had in our midst for a period of time. During the last three weeks I learned of the deaths of two students who were in my care at one point in time or another in their academic careers. One I learned of from a text message from my current vice principal and the other I learned of when scrolling through the obituary section of the local funeral home to learn about the arrangements of the first one. My heart was saddened because I knew both children so well. Both would light up when they saw me around town yelling "Hey, Mr. Medley," as they both had moved along to other schools or had graduated high school altogether. I was saddened even more when I learned that one death was by suicide and the other's cause of death is still pending.
That's when the song "The Greatest Love of All" came to me and that line about "showing them the beauty they possess inside" leaped out at me. Suicide and a pending cause of death at such young ages................ We are losing too many of our young people; too many of our children. Are we as adults showing these children all the beauty they possess inside? Are we giving them that sense of pride to make it easier? Children do not ask to come here and in far too many cases we as adults become and are their biggest problem. Too many children have to become adults before their time because of what they are born into. Too many children have to struggle with adult issues as children because of the irresponsibility of the adults who created them and abdicated their parental responsibilities in the delivery room. Too many of our children are angry and don't know what to do with that anger, so they take it out on themselves and others even to the point of suicide or homicide.
So after reading this post, go out and find a young person and make it your business to help him/her understand the beauty that he/she possesses inside. Do not rest or quit until you have helped him/her to gain that sense of pride to make it easier in order for you to hear his/her laughter and allow it to remind you of how it used to be. If we do that, maybe, just maybe that child will make it to have a fiftieth birthday party to invite us to. Something to critically think about. As always I welcome your commentary in the comment section of the blog and you are invited to follow The Critical Thinker on Twitter @thinkcritical01.