When I was 6-years-old – a kindergarten student at Roosevelt Elementary School – the year was 1981.
At that age, I still considered school a fun place – filled with discovery, imagination and hope for the future.
It was a place in which I felt “safe” – protected both emotionally and physically by a staff who genuinely cared for each and every one of us. Whether in the confines of our classroom or the grassy fields of our playground, I never found myself worrying about the dangers, which no doubt were in existence even back then.
I’m sure Jacob Hall was no different.
Hall was the South Carolina boy who sadly passed away on Saturday after complications from being shot on his elementary school playground earlier in the week.
His mother Renae said that he was her “superhero”, living a life of humility and maturity for his age – always caring for everyone else over himself.
“Jacob was forgiving,” Renae said. “What happened to Jacob, Jacob forgives already. He’s in heaven smiling down at us. He’s asking his mommy to be able to be strong to forgive just like he would have.”
Jacob’s senseless death will never be fully explained or understood. But a 6-year-old boy has taught this 41-year-old man that forgiveness isn’t always about winning – it isn’t always about personal justice.
Forgiveness is about recognizing the limitations of others, the personal challenges they face and simply letting go of the hate that so often surrounds that word.
How a 6-year-old can understand the power of forgiveness more than most adults is testament to just how unnecessarily complicated we often make our own lives.
“He was going to make a difference in this world,” Jacob’s mom said. “He was going to show people how we were brought to this world to love each other, not to hate.”
His death is tragically ironic, but highlights a problem with truly global proportions.
Look around and you’ll soon discover that hate is everywhere, from politics to movies to dinner tables across this country and beyond. We propagate it each and every day based on race, sexual orientation, social class, political affiliation, religious beliefs, and the list goes on and on.
And while there will always be amazing individuals like Jacob who’ve learned the power of forgiveness – even towards someone we might not think deserves it – isn’t it time we started fostering a level of love, respect and tolerance in our governments, in our homes, in our communities, and most importantly, in our schools.
Rest in peace my young friend.