On May 7th my boss sent me an invite to join in a zoom meeting with Frank DeAngelis. Mr. DeAngelis was the principal of Columbine High School 21 years ago, during the Columbine shooting. He was guest speaking at a meeting for our Long Term Care providers. I was stressed with the workload of converting our office to operating remotely and being a calming voice for our providers. This in addition to the day-to-day running of an office, while coordinating putting on emergency hospitals, praying, acquiring a teenage girl, missing family, and other aspects of my life which had suddenly been altered dramatically.
I logged into the training and multi-tasked while listening at first but after 10 minutes I was captivated by what he was saying. The message he conveyed was extremely powerful. I can’t reiterate everything he said in the way he did but the underlying theme was never given up hope, never give up your faith, and remember you are in this together. The other thing he said was that even though we are living in a technical world, nothing will replace that human element. Take time to let people know how much you care about them.
I went for a walk to process his message and pondered his message.
Here was a man who had been responsible for keeping children safe and educating them, who had, on what started as an ordinary day, witnessed some of his students die. He shared that when he first walked back into Columbine, he would relive the horrors of that day. His counselor told him if he did not get over that, he could never be a principal again. He was advised to remember each child lost and how they lived their life, not how they died. Change his mindset for the good.
He shared how years later former students would come to him and introduce their children to him. Children, who would not exist, if it weren’t for him and others who selflessly saved their lives. He said don’t dwell on the negative aspect of that which you can’t control. Think about the impact you have on others and the good that you do.
This brought me back to my days running a facility for medically compromised individuals. Someone asked me one time how I could do the work I do, especially when one of them dies. My response was “if when they die, I know in my heart that I did everything I could to make their life a little better, I can be at peace with their passing”.
Therefore, with Mr. DeAngelis’s message; “what is hope?” It is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, a feeling of trust, a longing for something.
Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with the state of the world and our lives that we lose hope. However, we need hope to survive. Hope can be small, hoping for a new job, hoping to find love, hoping your day will go well. Or hope can be on a larger scale, that a child with cancer survives, a pandemic ends, all people can live together regardless of the color of the skin or their beliefs.
Great things can be accomplished as long as we continue to hope. One person’s hope may not change the future, but the Hope of the human race together can make an impact. If all Hope is lost, there is no future to look forward to. Personal or collectively. Live your day with Hope in your heart and you may help one person learn to hope that day. It will have a ripple effect. You may not know the impact that day or ever but it will be there. With Hope you will never lose track of yourself when things seem hopeless, however, you rediscover the strength you had forgotten or discover hidden treasures of strength, compassion, love, or leadership you were not aware of.