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What Eugene Taught Me

--by Linda Lantieri (Mar 29, 2010)


When I first met Eugene, he had been a peer mediator for several years in his South Bronx high school.  Once, when he was asked by his teacher to think about a goal he had for himself in the future, he had said, "To be alive at twenty-one."  He was eighteen years old at the time.  A year after he graduated, I got a telephone call from his principal telling me that Eugene had been in the "wrong place at the wrong time" and had been hit by a random bullet while standing on a street corner in his neighborhood.  He was in Metropolitan Hospital, paralyzed from the waist down.  It took me two days to get up enough courage to visit him.

As I walked into the hospital ward that day, I saw a disheartening sight -- overy thirty young men in wheelchairs, many of them victims of violence that plagued our city.  I spotted Eugene immediately.  I asked him, "How are you doing?"  I will never forget his response.  He said, "I wasn't doing too great until this morning, when I got up and decided to find the place in my heart that could forgive the guy that pulled the trigger."  Almost speechless, I managed to ask, "How were you able to do that?"  He replied, "I realized that I could have been that guy if I didn't know there was a better way."

The compassion and insight that Eugene displayed that day is still the exception, not the norm, but it has inspired me to think further about how to foster such resilience and courage in our young people and how we can make these exceptions in students' and teachers' lives more widespread.

--Linda Lantieri, in Schools With Spirit


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12 Previous Reflections:

 
On Dec 9, 2010 Jenny wrote:

The power to forgive is priceless.



On Apr 8, 2010 Swapan Kr.Haldar wrote:


I would like to add the following lines from DALAILAMA in my previous reflection of "WHAT EUGENE TAUGHT ME".

How mind work when one learn the "better way" and work on the path.

 If we have a positive mental attitude, then even when surrounded by hostility, we shall not lack inner peace. On the other hand, if our mental attitude is more negative, influenced by fear, suspicion, helplessness, or self-loathing, then even when surrounded by our best friends, in a nice atmosphere and comfortable surroundings, we shall not be happy.---DALAILAMA
 


On Apr 7, 2010 Swapan Kr.Haldar wrote:

While reading the story of Eugene, I remember the following lines from the book "life after death" of Deepak Chopra. "No soul contains evil,soul can't be iherently evil. underlying all human actions are search for love, and when people are driven to evil action, the root cause is lack of love" May be, fear and hatred out of the incident,towards the guys who pumped the bllet in Eugene's body become the cause of  his suffering,untill he got back the realisation of"better way" which he was knowing.ThusEugenes heart/soul got liberated from evil thought ,filled with love and compassion and started feeling great.Fear transformed to love. May be the "better way"called as salvation,Nirvana,Param Chaitnyya,Rhu and soon....are titled at different time by many prophets.The afterword thought and work of Linda Lantieri is highly appreciable and one should learn and get the inspiration from the moral of E  See full.

While reading the story of Eugene, I remember the following lines from the book "life after death" of Deepak Chopra.

"No soul contains evil,soul can't be iherently evil.

underlying all human actions are search for love,

and when people are driven to evil action,

the root cause is lack of love"

May be, fear and hatred out of the incident,towards the guys who pumped the bllet in Eugene's body become the cause of  his suffering,untill he got back the realisation of"better way" which he was knowing.ThusEugenes heart/soul got liberated from evil thought ,filled with love and compassion and started feeling great.Fear transformed to love.

May be the "better way"called as salvation,Nirvana,Param Chaitnyya,Rhu and soon....are titled at different time by many prophets.The afterword thought and work of Linda Lantieri is highly appreciable and one should learn and get the inspiration from the moral of Eugene to make the circle of his/her sorrounding with full of peace and harmony, as the planet earth need to be a place of peace and harmony

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On Apr 6, 2010 Pancho wrote:

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all... A Wednesday of more embodiment of the Feminine Divine. Sister Meghna's stories were incredibly moving. If I could summarize them in an equation it wold be something like: Female + Power = Fower. I'm going to share two stories of this fower and also an inspiring contemporary example of the emerging paradigm of healing. 1. Gandhi's Teacher of Nonviolence. 2. Tasty Satyagraha: Women Leading Again. 3. The Healing of Forgiveness. 1. Gandhi's Teacher of Nonviolence. "I learnt the lesson of nonviolence from my wife [Kasturba], when I tried to bend her to my will. Her determined resistance to my will, on the one hand, and her quiet submission to the suffering my stupidity involved, on the other, ultimately made me ashamed of myself and cured me of my stupidity... in the end, she became my teacher in nonviolence." --Mahatma Gandhi. 2. Tasty Satyagraha: Women Leading Again. Sister M  See full.

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all...

A Wednesday of more embodiment of the Feminine Divine.
Sister Meghna's stories were incredibly moving. If I could summarize them in an equation it wold be something like: Female + Power = Fower. I'm going to share two stories of this fower and also an inspiring contemporary example of the emerging paradigm of healing.

1. Gandhi's Teacher of Nonviolence.
2. Tasty Satyagraha: Women Leading Again.
3. The Healing of Forgiveness.

1. Gandhi's Teacher of Nonviolence.
"I learnt the lesson of nonviolence from my wife [Kasturba], when I tried to bend her to my will. Her determined resistance to my will, on the one hand, and her quiet submission to the suffering my stupidity involved, on the other, ultimately made me ashamed of myself and cured me of my stupidity... in the end, she became my teacher in nonviolence." --Mahatma Gandhi.

2. Tasty Satyagraha: Women Leading Again.
Sister Meghna also shared a phenomenal story of a group of Indian women who self-organized to provide healthy milk to their communities without the help of the government. It brought to mind the inspiring movement that started in Mexico after the presidential electoral fraud of 2006 (I was there, unbelievable fraud). Big corporations, like one of the largest breadmaker on the World, Grupo Bimbo, was
key financier of the fraudulent elections that led to the current Government (which now thinks it is ok to raid _any_ person's home without an order). But little did they know that this lack of integrity only inspired the creative resistance, or satyagraha, to step it up!

One of the things that happened was that a pair of brave women organized to bake their own bread. "Pan Mi General" or "My General's Bread." The logo is Emiliano Zapata (on the South) and Pancho Villa (on the North), two of the main figures of the Mexican Revolution holding a stalk of wheat. The slogan: "No mas pan con lo mismo...sabroso y resisente" which roughly translates into: "Not the same old bread...tasty and resistant." The word "pan" in Spanish means bread, but it's also the acronym for Calderon's conservative National Action Party or PAN.

Pan Mi General’s bread is organic and made from ingredients produced by local farmers. Soon, the bread was distributed in Mexico City, created many jobs and helped to educate people about local-fresh-organic bread/food. The corporate media, in an attempt to discredit this incredible project, attacked by saying that "Pan Mi General develops mold after 5 days, unlike Pan Bimbo that last 20 days!". An excellent opportunity to teach people about the nasty conservatives used to keep unhealthy food "fresh".

Boycotting Grupo Bimbo and creating a healthy alternative at the same time. A win-win situation: Gandhi's constructive programme at its best.

What a tasty resistance lead all by women!

3. The Healing of Forgiveness.
The passage talks about the power of healing. What Eugene taught us was a big deal of forgiveness, like Azim Khamisa, or Aqeela Sherrills.

Brother Aqeela Sherrills is an inspiring leader who emerged from the bloody gang conflicts of the Watts neighborhood in South Los Angeles, after losing countless friends (and 4 years ago his 18 year old son, Terrell) to violence, and decided to work tirelessly to bring peace, education, housing, jobs and self-respect to L.A. and other U.S. inner cities. In this 29 minute inspired talk, brother Aqeela offers us an alternative of the how the environmental, social justice, human rights and civil rights movements need to find common ground in a spirit of reverence and compassion, an understanding that their primary mission is the restoration of the vitality of the human spirit.


May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.
Pancho

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On Apr 5, 2010 renuka wrote:

iam very happy . bec i read this quote



On Apr 2, 2010 Linda Lantieri wrote:

I am grateful that more of you out there have now read this story. Eugene continues to be an inspirataion to me and makes me keep being committed to giving young people the skills and dispositions they really need to be successful in life - the ones that prepare them for the tests of life instead of what young people feel today - that school for them is a "life of tests". May we continue to have the courage to widen our vision of education that young people like Eugene are taught skills in social and emotional learning as a regular part of the curriculum.

Peace,

Linda Lantieri



On Apr 2, 2010 Ramanand Kowta wrote:

What courage ! hats off ! May his tribe flourish !

Forgiveness and Gratitude lead you towards ' service with humility ' .Only then does surrender to and the acceptance of the Oneness of LIFE happen ! 



On Apr 1, 2010 Somik Raha wrote:

Last night was magical with Mam Movies co-founder Meghna's stories, some of which she has captured on the CF Blog. Not possible to capture all the reactions, but just to give a flavor, people who are generally reticent could not stop thanking Meghna in the circle. From the passage, I was reminded of Gandhi's reflection which he shared at a prayer meeting. "It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver up my soul with the remembrance of God on my lips…" This reflection always brings me goosebumps. It is said that in the second after Gandhi was shot, he died uttering "Hey Ram!" I wonder if I'd be able to get over the fear and despair in such a situation and be able to see that everything was alright in the larger picture and forgive my assassin (would there be anything to forgive?). What an ideal to have in life! It seems to me that over the dec  See full.

Last night was magical with Mam Movies co-founder Meghna's stories, some of which she has captured on the CF Blog. Not possible to capture all the reactions, but just to give a flavor, people who are generally reticent could not stop thanking Meghna in the circle.

From the passage, I was reminded of Gandhi's reflection which he shared at a prayer meeting. "It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver up my soul with the remembrance of God on my lips…"

This reflection always brings me goosebumps. It is said that in the second after Gandhi was shot, he died uttering "Hey Ram!" I wonder if I'd be able to get over the fear and despair in such a situation and be able to see that everything was alright in the larger picture and forgive my assassin (would there be anything to forgive?). What an ideal to have in life! It seems to me that over the decades, Eugene's story speaks to Gandhi's reflection, in that it is indeed possible to forgive, and we must do so for our own sake.

There were fewer reflections today as everyone was soaking in the force of Meghna's sharing. Chris shared the amazing story of his birthday gift, where CFers joined in to make art work at a station. Near the elevator, Pancho drew in a "welcome home" mat. Passengers were so thrilled that they joined in the art-making exercise with a big smile. Praveen shared that everyone at the circle probably has deep stories behind their life, and Nipun added Praveen's story of gifting his favorite t-shirt at Karma Kitchen (see picture from the receiver). 

Someone (Kyle?) shared the story of how he shared loaves of bread with folks in a train station who were asking for money. Someone pointed out that he was not thanked, and his response, "That's the point! No expectations." He also added that after meditating, they realized that even though they may not have money to share, the biggest gift can be a smile and the words, "I love you," which, for prudential purposes, can be said from the heart and not necessarily from the lips.

Pancho pointed out the divine feminine at play with Meghna's contribution. I am hoping he will share three things in an online comment.

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On Mar 30, 2010 Evetta Hines wrote:

As I read this story, it pulled at my heart strings. Having the courage to brave through any adversity is admirable. Having the heart to forgive someone who caused the adversity is priceless.



On Mar 30, 2010 pappu wrote:

very nice



On Mar 30, 2010 Isabel wrote:

I feel good when I read this story. I agree that it is a question of resilience and, the good news is that resilience is something that can be learned. It is about having values AND it is about learning to thrive through bad experiencies in a constructive way. How important it is to have both of them. Love,



On Mar 29, 2010 shifa wrote:

That's a really good story!