Goodbye Martin Richard

I’ve been very busy.  So much movement, so many great projects and so many important connections have been made.  Empowerment Through Education has a growing voice and I’ve been engaged in speaking, making presentations, outlining ideas for real impact in challenging school environments and contributing to a STEM Think Tank.  But right now, none of the items on my to do list or the growing list on my desk that reads “to blog about” seem to matter as much as one more child who is now dead.  His name is Martin Richard.  He was 8 years old and he was killed at the Boston Marathon yesterday.

I did not know little Martin.  I only know what is being reported in the news about him.  It is a tragic story for the Martin family as his mother and sister were also badly injured yesterday at the Marathon.  It has been a hard, painful, sorrowful day here in Boston.  Bostonians are said to be tough, gritty – survivors.   Even the president said that Boston is a “tough and resilient town.” It’s true.  But it’s true because we work so hard for what we care about.  We are tough because we know what is right and we fight for it.

We are a town of innovators, activists, young leaders and concerned citizens willing to try and try and try again.  When I moved here more than a decade ago, I was told that Boston is the kind of city that spits you out if you aren’t meant to be here (the person I’m quoting was part of the spat crowd).  A few years later, working with the education system in Boston, someone said that BPS (Boston Public Schools) is like your grumpy uncle – he’s cranky but you love him him anyway.  I managed to learn my way around Boston’s crooked streets, locating and remembering the routes to no fewer than 20 different schools back in 2003 and 2004 using a bulky map book that lived under the passenger seat in my car.  I’ve taught about 750 Boston kids who aren’t kids anymore.  I have amassed a huge network of compassionate professionals who want to make a difference in Boston and throughout the world.  I’ve learned and relearned lessons here in Boston that have helped me to build a career and movement around building a better community for our children.  I’ve even seen Boston children care about and give their own precious resources to care for orphaned children in Africa.

If you don’t live here, but you know anything about Boston sports, then you know that Bostonians care a whole lot about what they care about.  A LOT.  And we care a whole lot about the people who are suffering because of what happened happened yesterday.  We offered spare rooms in our homes.  We are reaching out to one another.  We are gathering tonight for candlelight vigils in the city (for details, go here and here).  Boston cares.  Boston stands up for what and who it cares about.  And Boston is also the home of a little boy who no longer lives in this world but now holds up a poster in perpetuity for the world to see.  A poster on which  he wrote:  “No more hurting people. Peace.”  (With two hearts – because the love matters.)

8 year old Martin Richard died at the Boston Marathon on 4.15.13

No one should have been hurt yesterday.  No one should have died.  No one should ever die on this planet until it is their natural time to die. There should be no more hurting people.  Martin is right.

There is no happy ending, no great lesson to my note.  Only a very simple and important call to action – one as big as a child’s heart and as perfect as Martin Richard’s message to us:

I implore you to take action towards PEACE.  
I implore you to love someone it is hard for you to love 
and do something positive to impact the life of just one child.  

I meet people who feel they cannot do enough when they see how great the need really is.  I tell them that they will never know the measure of the impact they will have on a child’s life.  I have seen it myself in the relationships between students and hundreds of adults over the years.  I have received feedback from my own former students (as they now get jobs, get married and have children of their own) who tell me that what they received from these connections changed their lives.  We cannot undo yesterday.  We can only remember that the reason we are here is to make the world a better place and when we do that for a child, the impact is as plentiful as the buds on a springtime tree.  As our children grow, and as we teach and support them, they blossom into these incredible human beings who are capable of changing the world.  This world.  Our world.

Please, follow your heart.  Find your personal strength, grit and determination.  If you can, find children to support on your street, your town, in other cities, states, countries and continents.  They are all our children.  They all need our love and they all want just what Martin Richard wanted.  No more hurt.  Just Peace.

So find the peace-loving eight year old inside yourself and get involved in the lives of children today, no matter how confusing the roads along that journey are to navigate or how grumpy the uncle may be.  It is always worth it, I promise.

Rest in Peace, little Martin.   
And Rest in Peace all little children who die from senseless violence in this world.
Your message will be carried forward to so many people you never got to know.