When I was little, probably six or seven years old, I can still remember the nasty thing I did to one of my high school brothers. It was winter and our large family was crowded in the living room of our small farmhouse. I don’t recall all the details, but it seemed like everyone was in high spirits and there was laughing and joking going on. For some reason I was down on the floor and came crawling around the back of the easy chair where Gene was sitting. I can still see his bare arm stretched straight out over the side of the chair and as I came up behind him, the clever idea popped into my mind, “Wouldn’t it be funny to hit it (at the joint) as hard as I can?” So, I did. The last thing I remember was his howling and anger, and suddenly it wasn’t funny any more…
I recalled this incident as I reflected on PeaceMakers Week and the core concepts that we reinforced with the children last week, especially empathy. Empathy is being able to feel what another person would feel and showing kindness to them in their situation. I would like to blame it on my age, but I didn’t have a very strong sense of empathy when I was little!
The good news is that empathy, along with kindness, resilience, friendship, conflict resolution and teamwork, are all concepts that can be taught and reinforced, even at the youngest age, as is evidenced by these kindergarten and second graders.
One way we also emphasized empathy and kindness was through presentations by Brenda Daum from Kids on the Block. Her puppets put on skits about children with autism, blindness and Down Syndrome. These little scenarios showed our children in grades PreK-4 that everyone is to be accepted and treated with respect.
Students in grades 5 and 6 had the privilege of hearing the story of Bob Deschaine and his 38-year friendship with Jim Logan, a man with special needs. The students were touched by his story. (click on link)
The junior high got the opportunity to put social skills in action with a social leadership seminar conducted by Mary Beth Rice. From learning how to introduce another person, to the art of conversation and navigating family relationships, the students learned practical tips on how to prepare for upcoming years in high school as well as skills they need for life.
All of these aspects of PeaceMakers Week are just the tip of the iceberg. Our goal is to help the children recognize, develop and live the skills and virtues that lead to being PeaceMakers in our world. By doing so, they will reap the rewards that God promises in this Beatitude, “Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
PS – Saturday is the feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. As a means of asking for the peace of God to descend upon your homes, we will be sending home St. Michael home blessing kits to each family on Friday. Please take a few minutes to gather the family and ask the protection of St. Michael on your family and home.