Finding His Voice

When describing our son, my husband often will talk about his incredibly strong “justice meter’. Our boy feels deeply and intensely. There is right, and there is wrong. There is fair and there is unfair. There is equity and there is inequity. And he will always point it out. If the injustice is one toward him, he will want somebody else to “fix” it. But if the injustice is pointed toward somebody or something else, he will want to know what he can do to “fix” it.

Part of his justice meter is likely the black and white thinking of an Aspie. Some of it likely is driven by a personal knowledge of knowing what it feels like to be seen as different, other, or less than and the desire for others to not have to feel those things. But most of it is driven by his deep feeling heart, compassionate soul and keen observation of the world.

Over the years, we’ve seen his justice meter at work in things as small as the perceived inequity of his sister getting something he did not receive (No fair! Why did she get ice cream?) to things as big as wanting only monetary gifts the Christmas he was 9, so he could donate to the World Wildlife Federation in an effort to help save “all of the endangered animals.”

Most things in life are on a continuum, and while the examples I gave are the extreme ends of the continuum of this justice meter, there is rarely a day where we do not see some example of his need to create equity for himself and others. We see it in ways both big and small with incredible frequency. So, it was not surprising when he came home on Monday and told me that he was part of a group of students at his middle school working with the school administration to plan a remembrance event on the 1 month anniversary of the shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

When I asked him why he wanted to help plan the event, he said “Because they mattered.”

His desire to help organize an event to remember the lives of the 17 who were killed  has nothing to do with politics, rhetoric, side-choosing & finger-pointing. His desire to do something is not about pro or anti anything. His desire to do something was a It’s about a genuine, compassionate & caring response to the tragic deaths of 17 people.
So for 48 hours, he and the handful of other student organizers worked together with school administration and teachers to plan a heartfelt memorial to lives lost to tragedy. They encouraged students and staff to wear burgundy & silver (school colors of Stoneman Douglas) as a show of unity on March 14th. The administration adjusted the bell schedules for the day so that the entire 17 minute remembrance occurred during snack break (meaning no impact to instructional time.) The students set up 17 empty desks each labeled with the name of one person who lost their life in the Parkland shooting. They read a brief biography of each of those 17. There was a moment of silence.
I am incredibly proud of my son, the other students on the organizing committee, and the administration and teachers who are supported these kids. But mostly, I am thankful that the parts of his personality that often make my son vulnerable – deep feelings, strong sense of justice, black and white view of the world – were in this case the superpowers that helped him to find his voice and speak out for others “because they mattered.” It is my deepest hope that in the not too distant future he will be able to dig deep and use those same superpowers to speak up for himself, because he matters. That’s a message he is struggling to hear, believe and internalize in this season of life. But after this week, I   know there is hope. Because this was the week I truly believe he began to find his voice.


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