December 13, 1937 is a day etched in the collective Chinese consciousness. On that day, the Japanese imperial army marched into the city of Nanjing—then the capital of China—and unleashed a wave of violence for six long weeks. The soldiers attacked ordinary citizens and violated all acceptable international norms of war. This act of mass violence marked the beginning of World War II in Asia. It is difficult to mark the anniversary of this dark chapter today without reflecting on contemporary global events reminding us all of the fragility of peace and democracy.
Orlando. Brussels. Baghdad. Baton Rouge. St. Paul. Dallas. Nice. Istanbul. Baton Rouge, again. The last several weeks have been hard on humanity. I was on vacation from my work at Facing History, trying to stay unplugged for awhile, when the news about Dallas broke. I logged back on to social media, but just as quickly shut it off again. I was (am) overwhelmed, feeling small and fairly powerless to help heal the world and prevent such violence in the future. But, I also couldn't get away from the feeling that, at that moment, turning my back was the exact wrong thing to do. I kept coming back to some critical questions: Why is it important to stay checked in, even when I can and want to check out? In the face of overwhelming sorrow, terror, and anger, how do I remain hopeful? How can I continue to take care of myself - to put on my oxygen mask first - while at the same time not abandoning my responsibility as a human being to care for others within my universe of obligation? Below are a few strategies that may help keep us engaged and hopeful and, as the school year begins in the coming weeks, do the same for our students.
Nearly two years ago, on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. News of the event swiftly spread across national media outlets and the shooting quickly became a flashpoint for a national discussion about race, policing, and justice in the United States.