Happy Friday, Rules readers.
So much has happened this week that could lead to interesting classroom discussions that challenge students to put themselves in another person’s shoes. If I had a class of opinionated high school students, I would love to hear their thoughts on the Texas teen who didn’t get jail time after his lawyer used “affluenza” as a defense for a fatal car wreck. Is justice applied equally for the rich and the poor? And that controversial Super Bowl ad for Coca-Cola could lead to some great discussions about diversity and a sense of belonging.
But let’s dig into some great writing. This week, we read about the continued pain surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death, the lifelong battle of drug addiction, and the power of forgiveness for former high school bullies
If you’re concerned about mental health and grieving:
“When people slip through our fingers and die in plain sight, right before our eyes, answers can be elusive. And it’s a different, more acute kind of pain and guilt that comes when we can’t rescue someone we love.”
—The Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak writes about the grief of high school students who lost two of their classmates to suicide in a week
If you’re interested in racial reconciliation:
“See, none of us were ever supposed to know Trayvon, at least not in this capacity. His life should be occurring anonymously like the rest of ours, with the exception of celebrities and those in the spotlight. Instead his bones rest in a grave occupied way too soon.”
—The Black Youth Project’s Shantell Jamison writes about grappling with the death of Trayvon Martin on what would have been his 19th birthday.
If you’re concerned about health, violence, and social issues:
“The consequences of premature births and violence are killing Detroit kids at a higher rate than any U.S. city its size or larger.”
—Detroit News reporter Karen Bouffard’s comprehensive project, “Surviving through age 18 in Detroit”
If you’re concerned about bullying:
“I gasped when I saw the name. Then tears. Before even reading the words I just knew that this was going to be a good note, and when I read the words and his follow-up response, I sobbed. That sounds dramatic but it’s true. A good cry on-and-off for upwards of an hour.”
—A gay man who received a Facebook apology from a former classmate who bullied him in high school after his engagement video went viral
If you’re concerned about drug abuse:
“My first attempt at recovery came in 1991, when I was 19 years old. Almost exactly two years later, I decided to have a drink. Two years after that, I was addicted to heroin. There’s a lot we don’t know about alcoholism and drug addiction, but one thing is clear: Regardless of how much time clean you have, relapsing is always as easy as moving your hand to your mouth.”
—Seth Mnookin’s Slate essay on Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death and the fear of relapse for recovering addicts
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.