I am still processing the presentations by the speakers at this year’s “Narratives of Courage” in Watchung, New Jersey, and “Living Lessons” in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.  All speakers enjoyed so-called normal lives until a terrorist act, a natural disaster, a decision by a government, an accident, or illness interrupted, causing a personal tragedy.  All presenters somehow managed to cope and move on with their lives in positive ways, whether they were survivors of the Holocaust, of genocide, 9-11, etc.  One of the first to speak was a man who had lost his son in the Sandy Hook shooting.  His were the only dry eyes in the audience of over 500students and adults.  He is trying to turn this devastating event into something positive, by sensitizing the young people to be aware of isolates and loners and to reach out to them.  Kindness was such a theme in both school days.  I’m reminded of the author George Saunders graduation speech that was publicized in the “New York Times” on kindness.  Compassion seems to have become something soft and less respected, he said, and yet it is one of our most powerful tools interpersonally and globally.  A young woman who had lost her parents in a car accident as they were moving her home after freshman year because of a driver who was texting made a plea for attentive driving.  Another young woman had irresponsibly sexted her ex-boyfriend a photo of herself naked, which he sent to all his contacts.  The photo went viral, and the result was absolutely tragic.  So some speeches were cautionary tales, but all were inspiring.

 

 

 

 

  

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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