Archive for Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In other’s view: Rachel’s Challenge dares us to dream

January 30, 2008

The Lawrence Journal-World said this in a recent editorial:

The message of "Rachel's Challenge" may be focused on high school students, but its simple principles are something that people of all ages should embrace.

Rachel Scott wanted her life to matter, and although she was only 17 when she became the first student killed at Columbine High School, her family is trying to make sure that goal is met. Through a nonprofit organization named "Rachel's Challenge," they are taking a message of tolerance and positive thinking to high schools across the nation, including a recent stop in Tonganoxie.

The five principles included in the "challenge" may seem corny or old-fashioned, but they provide a pretty good blueprint for living a happy, productive life. The first principle is to eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others. Another principle espouses the power of kind words; small acts of kindness have a huge impact. The challenge also urges teens to choose positive influences and "dare to dream" about their future. The final principle challenges teens to "start a chain reaction." Even small acts of kindness, Rachel wrote, can start a chain reaction that can have a broad impact.

Rachel's story has eerie elements. She reportedly told friends that she thought she would die young, but she still believed she would "someday touch millions of lives." Her diaries showed the way for family members and friends who wanted to bring meaning to Rachel's tragic death.

The "challenge" that came out of her writing reflects an old soul in a young body, someone who thought deeply and discovered simple wisdom. Looking for the best in others can help eliminate prejudice, and looking for positive influences is a choice people have the power to make. The "dare to dream" challenge is especially aimed at young people with their lives ahead of them, but it's good advice for all of us. If we can't envision a positive future for ourselves and the world around us, we can't realize it.

Sure, Rachel's Challenge is filled with the optimism and energy of youth. Maybe if Rachel had lived longer, her view would have become more jaded, less idealistic. Maybe that's why she died so young, so the pure simplicity of her message wouldn't be lost.

Many probably view that message as a little naive, that such small acts of kindness and respect couldn't possibly make a big difference in the world. To those people we say, "Dare to dream."

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