I do not care about your hate. Tell me what you love, what difference you make. This is the lesson to be learned and the example to be set. To those motivated by fear, division and doublespeak, stop and think. What wounds do you heal? What bridge do you build?

Now is the time for Loveworks, an afterschool leadership training program for middle school students. I am honored to volunteer as a mentor. The foundational lesson in my Loveworks Story Express series considers the power of the primitive reactive brain. We discuss the nature of fear (and therefore hate), the awareness of love, and how we cannot be in both states at the same moment. We make a choice.

Students learn to pause from their anxiety, peer pressure and fear of missing out. They learn to breathe and consider the consequences of their actions. They step back and notice how people tend to react to fearful situations in primitive ways. Students are invited to make a list of qualities they admire about themselves. We focus on what they love most about themselves and others.

Last fall Carissa shared the following: “When I am kind I feel like a diamond. When I am kind people love me back…I feel creative…I feel invincible. When I am kind I feel like a superhero.” She also wrote: “Words. Lately I’ve been wondering what it would be like to keep all my words inside. I wonder if they would come out another way, through my writing maybe or with a piece of chalk on the sidewalk. It could actually be safer that way, the words couldn’t hurt anyone. You could take back all the wrong ones. You could crumple up the paper or just wait for the rain.”

What difference can we make? We create a new generation committed to healing wounds, building bridges and leading by example. Leaders empowered by freedom of expression, thoughtfulness and personal responsibility. The future is upon us. Tell us what you love, how you will share the true measure of kindness.

Art by Carissa

Art by Carissa