by Ron Walker
When the legendary singer Whitney Houston sang “The Greatest Love of All,” written by Linda Creed and Michael Masser, the lyrics were crystal clear and emphatic. Here are the words that form the first stanza:
I believe that children are our future;
Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier;
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we use to be.
The song goes on to describe the greatest love and that it can be found inside of us if only we learn to love ourselves. Loving ourselves will enable us to find our own strength.
It has become clear that too many find hate easier than love. It has become painfully clear that we may not believe that children are our future. It has become emotionally damaging to see the seeds of anger and hate taking root within the body politic that we call the United States of America. The most recent seed of anger and hate was planted in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022, at the Robb Elementary School. Nineteen students and two teachers were murdered.
These 19 students were the future that the lyrics in “The Greatest Love of All” describes. These students were our gifts to a brighter future. I’m sure that they were being taught well. I’m sure that their teachers readily and often showed them the beauty they possessed inside. I am also certain they were given a sense of pride as well. And above all, I am sure that the love they were shown by their teachers and families was abundant.
This most recent in the endless cycle of gun violence and in particular school shootings, twenty-seven in 2022, sears my soul. I am an educator. I was a teacher and a principal, in partnership with families and communities, dedicated to children realizing a bright future. During my tenure in those capacities, I was able to witness the joys and successes of children and youth, as well as the obstacles that they overcame to reach their goals and milestones.
It is time for a great reckoning to take place in America, and it is overtime for the nation to search within its most fundamental beliefs. It is time for people to truly speak truth to and demand truth from power! We do not need our dedicated teachers and educators to be strapped to a gun as some politicians suggest. We need our educators to be linked inextricably to the belief that our children are our future and that safe, hopeful, and respectful learning environments for every student must be the promise and not just the hope. If you believe that children are our future, what will you do to secure that belief?