Sept. 10, 2010: Each one of us can help heal the violence, by Angelina Williams

Growing up in Dallas, Texas, I heard about a lot of violence. Every night on the news was another shooting or robbery. At high school my freshman year, a large number of my classmates were pregnant, involved with drugs and fighting or dropping out of school. It would have been really easy for me to just fall in with the crowd and do the same thing.

Why didn’t I join the crowd?

I was able to stay away from all that negativity for three main reasons:

1)    My parents were a huge influence in teaching me right from wrong.

2)    I was involved with athletics, which helped give me self-discipline and taught me the importance of setting goals.

3)    I got involved with after school activities.

All of those are vitally important to prepare young people to make right choices.

People can come from good homes and make poor choices, and people can come from dysfunctional homes and make right choices. We all have to accept responsibility for our own choices and actions. As I watched the Dallas news on TV this summer and saw a man lead police on a high-sped chase, I thought, “That man is making a choice. It’s a negative choice and he needs to be accountable for his actions.”

Yet, we can all help each other make right choices by encouraging one another. I like what the Year of Peace Committee is doing — they are sending word out to the community to work together to decrease violence and increase civility. I like that.

How do I heal if someone has hurt me? I have to acknowledge my feelings first. It is OK to be angry. Next I talk to someone who can help me work through the hurt. Then I needed to stay focused — go to church, go to school and work and let God and the goodness of other people help me heal. I also need to forgive. Forgiveness is a big part of healing. Then I need to let go of it and move on with my life.

When I think about the world five years from now, I think that we as a people can either stop the violence, increase the violence or remain the same as we are today. My hope is that through all of us encouraging each other and learning to make right choices, we can stop the violence. That is a big goal but I am a big believer that goals are important. We can only reach this goal if each one of us does our part.

— Angelina Williams competes in track for Cloud County Community College. She is a sophomore from Dallas, Texas.

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