What he left behind

Following the random-shooting death of 14-year-old Shaun Chrey, the 55th child under age 15 slain in Chicagoland this year, the Chicago Tribune reported on essays of his former classmates at Holy Angels School. After reading the original news report and the essays of his friends, it became obvious that he left something very special behind that we as a society need to embrace—self-esteem.

Whenever we choose to show love and generosity instead of hate and indifference, we have an opportunity to build someone’s self-esteem. In the students’ essays their disdain for gangs, drugs and guns as well as their respect for Carey’s life witnessed to the self-esteem that Carey helped build in them.

According to the Mendota Mental Health Institute, “A child learns his values first from his parents; they can show him in those small moments of togetherness that the world is a good, beautiful place in which to live.” Carey’s parents should be very proud. It is obvious that their son knew all about the beauty he possessed—his smile that would not be forgotten, his kindness, and his gifts of friendship and loyalty.

Sometimes regardless of how well parents try to build self-esteem in their children, a general disrespect for life in our society can make wrong look right. Disrespect for the unique gifts, of each human life is the same whether it is found in racism, in drug or alcohol abuse, in abortions of convenience, in a blatant neglect of the aged, in a disregard for advertising and television viewing choices, and even in accepted degrading language.

While there are no laws we can enforce to create self-esteem so that people do not want to kill each other, we can change our society. We can love each other more and respect our differences; we can condemn laws which destroy us; we can teach our children that every choice they make affects another person; and we can applaud parents who raise children like Shaun Carey. Maybe then, the children who fear tomorrow can embrace the gift that Carey left behind.

Cathleen Cooke-Bothe

DeKalb Resident