Reflecting on the events of the past to gain perspective

Published 1:20 pm Saturday, June 4, 2022

By Jan Miller Penton

As I scrolled through social media during the past week image after image of families celebrating special days in the lives of their children and grandchildren captured my attention. Each dance recital and graduation photo was beautiful, but only a glimpse into the lives of an entire clan. Each of these events took much dedication and preparation to achieve. 

Some of the precious ones in the photos were on the cusp of adulthood; others only beginning to tread the sometimes murky waters of adolescence. As I reminisce and let my mind drift to my own graduation from high school I remember the feeling of excitement, but also the anxiety of realizing all the choices ahead. I see myself walking across the stage and accepting my diploma with my entire life ahead of me, and the years have since sped by.

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The African proverb from Igbo, Nigeria states that it takes a whole village to raise a child. I concur that the actions of each of us creates the environment for either peace or violence to reign. If we open our eyes to the needs of not just our own family and friends, but the community around us and do what we can to help, our society will be enhanced.

Each time there is a horrible act of violence we are all mortified, and rightly so, but I think it behooves us to look at events of the past to help us put things into perspective. I looked up the history of school violence because I genuinely thought it was a new phenomenon. Not so. The first recorded school shooting in the United States was the Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre on July 26, 1764, where four Lenape American Indian entered the schoolhouse near Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and killed nine or ten children (reports vary). There were twelve violent acts documented during the 1800’s. I’m in no way saying the latest school violence is less horrific since it has been happening for centuries; I’m only saying that I was unaware.

A lifetime is short, and it usually takes a few trips around the sun to gain perspective. That is true; but as far as wisdom goes there is a better way. I just realized as I was clicking away at the keys that God gives wisdom freely to all who ask. It’s in the Book. Also the way we deal with the heartaches of this world is in there. The way we should treat others is also in those pages. 

When I don’t use God’s word as my plumb line and try to figure things out for myself, I can falter. I can get discouraged about the state of things in our country and on the planet, but sin has always been with us and always will be. If we hug our loved ones a little tighter and remember to speak a little kinder we may not change the world, but we can change our world.