by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff
Red Ribbon Week takes place throughout America in October. The observance began in 1985 after a DEA agent was kidnapped and murdered by drug traffickers in Mexico. The purpose of the week is to educate people on the risks of alcohol and drugs, and to encourage healthy, drug-free lives.
Most of us are familiar with Red Ribbon Week, especially if you have children. During these weeks, children wear ribbons or those familiar red wristbands.
I remember vividly an experience with our son Jeffrey’s elementary school. They had a special day when all kids were asked to wear red. During an outside assembly a helicopter flew overhead and took an aerial photo of all the kids standing in rows to spell out the words “JUST SAY NO.”
We live fairly close to the school. Many days from our open, upstairs bedroom window, I can hear the sound of children playing during the school’s recess times. It is a distant hum of joy and it always makes me smile. On that particular day, I could hear snippets of the outside assembly. A police officer was telling the kids some statistics about drugs … how you will be introduced to drugs by someone you know, how casual use can lead to more serious consequences and how drugs lead to a nowhere life fast. She asked them, “What do you say to drugs?” You could hear the roar of these children as they said, “NO!” And then she asked, “What do you say to life?” With even more intensity, the children shouted, “YES!”
It was inspiring! Tears of joy welled up inside of me. Those children were affirming life with so much gusto that I shouted YES, too! I was inspired by them to not only live a more healthy life for myself, but I wanted to help them! I felt empowered by their commitment.
A Course in Miracles tells us, “Alone we are all lowly, but together we shine with brightness so intense that none of us alone can even think of it.” I truly felt that statement through these children. I felt so connected to their shout-out to the world – not to their bodies because I couldn’t see those, but I could feel their intensity. It was a sensation beyond words.
I still remember that experience, as I recount it here. It again reminds me that I need to remember that everyone I meet is shouting out the same thing whether they know it or not — Yes to life! Yes to the help and support to which we are entitled! Yes to love that is our healing power! And, I need to want to help them on their journey as much as I wanted to help those children.
All humanity is shouting out the same thing. We need to be willing to look through those acts of hate, anger, and frustration to see the calls for help. It not only heals humanity; it heals each of us as well.