One of our vocabulary words in my fifth grade class this week was principle: “a personal or specific basis of conduct or management.” Basically, I told my students, principles are your personal beliefs and values and they dictate how you act.
My sister in Silicon Valley emailed a news article to me. Santa Clara officials have “declared the teen suicide problem an urgent health care problem” due to the episodes of suicide clusters in that area. High school students (many from affluent homes of highly educated parents) are committing suicide in staggering numbers. They jump in front of trains, they jump off overpasses and buildings and they hang themselves. A Yale psychologist who has studied this phenomenon says that, “on average, rich offspring experience serious levels of depression and anxiety at twice the national rates.”
Why are children who seem to have so much promise taking their lives?
The experts have identified two factors: overwhelming pressure to succeed AND a broken or non-existent bond within their families. These youth are showing signs of mental illness and their parents are in denial. The principles, then, of these parents are simply high achievement, excellent education and then successful careers for their offspring. Absent is the principle of unconditional love and acceptance.
At this moment, our country is experiencing high tension: racial violence and racist rhetoric not seen since the civil rights movement is now a reality. The principles in our current federal administration seem to be tax cuts for the wealthy, protect the KKK and bully people into submission. Again, absent is the principle of unconditional love and freedom. Absent is the principle of peace and equal rights (for women, LGBTQ, immigrants, etc.)
With such principles, only disaster can result.
It is up to each of us to do our own part to right this wrong.
- Vote hate out.
- Join the NAACP.
- Join NPR.
- Subscribe to the NY Times.
- Volunteer at a community organization that serves people in need.
Any other ideas? Feel free to add!