In the “About Me ” section of this blog I mentioned that one of my careers was as a High School Counselor. I didn’t mention that I counseled at an alternative education setting known as “Community School”. The students were enrolled at our site when they were no longer allowed to attend either traditional or continuing education sites. These students were at the highest risk for dropping out of school and every other risk known to man. This was my favorite job ever.
Once I stopped being afraid and intimidated by the students I loved them. They were honest, rough and experienced in life beyond their years. They were defensive of the systems of our society and the people who controlled them. That included me. I identified with how imperfect they were and as soon as I relaxed they did too. Most of the students were at the school because events and circumstances in their lives, and the decisions they made to cope with them, were harmful to either themselves, or others or both. These cycles of bad decisions and negative consequences are very difficult to interrupt. It is a merry-go-round often impossible to get off without help. The job of every school staff member was to teach them new ways to think and act to change their patterns. Sometimes it worked and inspired. Sometimes it didn’t and saddened.
How can we find beauty in these children? They act in ways that challenge our beliefs and standards. Where is the hope in generational poverty and cultural permission for teen pregnancy, drug use and violence? It is easy to see good in nature, people and places we love and are like, social norms we believe in. Not so easy to find beauty in people and behaviors we don’t understand nor approve of. Behaviors and attitudes that have been warped and darkened by pressures and circumstances we can never understand.
Finding the GOOD does not mean excusing behaviors that hurt, condoning anti-social attitudes nor ignoring entire segments of our cities population because we don’t approve. It also does NOT mean changing them to he like us. We find the good , like we do for friends and family, by actively looking. We go beyond the surface seeking the uniqueness in every individual and culture until we find what we know to be good in ALL people: Love, purpose,, dreams, needs not met, safety, relationships and God. God created all things—ALL PEOPLE. Look for Him in others and He will show you their beauty as He highlights yours to them.