The Hope That Brings Peace


Photo Courtesy of CBS News

The vigil at Central Park is an example of hope bringing people together

Spencer Gorka, The Scroll, Staff Writer

A year ago, Saugus High School went through an experience that no one will ever forget. The shooting on November 14, 2019, was devastating to the whole community. How could any lesson or meaning come out of it? What Saugus and our community has learned is something positive and hopeful. It’s nothing that anyone has done wrong. We have learned that we must live life to the fullest and to love the people around us. It is hope and love that never fails. This is what we’ve taken away from this.

When somebody says ‘live life to its fullest’, what does that necessarily mean? Some people like to say that it means to take every aspect of life to the tenth degree. But is that really what we’re looking at? Esther Coudsy, a freshman at Saugus says, “To live life to its fullest is to live without holding back…you don’t want to have any regrets and wish you could go back and do it all over. So you should live life to its fullest and seize that moment.” 

Paul Hoover, a youth pastor at Valencia Community Church said, “I believe that living life to its fullest is learning to be content in every situation, and being grateful for what you have.” The reality of it is that nobody knows when they will die. It could be tonight or tomorrow or 8 years from now. Whenever it does happen, people want to leave a legacy. 

Hoover  stated, “Your name may be forgotten, but a legacy of loving people well can influence people for generations beyond your lifetime.” What he is saying here is that if you want to leave a legacy, wouldn’t it be wonderful to leave a legacy of love? Whether it be public or just to the people around them. ‘Live life to the fullest’ means to make your life count. Give the people around you something to remember you by. To live with meaning and purpose. Because life has purpose and meaning, there is hope, and because there is hope, life has meaning. People are not here by coincidence. People are here for a reason.

People are here for a reason. To be with you and support you. To teach you and to guide you. Esther said, “People are definitely in this world for a reason[…]As a Christian, it is our privilege to find those who do not know about God and teach them about everything He has done for us, so that they may be saved.” There are so many people around us that play a role in our lives. And we play a role in their lives as well. People who hate also play a role. They learn that their ways are not the right way and we learn to forgive. There are so many loved ones around us who love us and we don’t even know how long they will be around. Because of that, we should spend time with them as much as we can. Tell them how much they matter and how much you love them. 

Through the pain and suffering is light and hope. After the shooting happened our community came together. We united with grief and hope. It’s like what happened on 9/11. After the attack and thousands died, the country came together again to support each other. We were united across the nation from a tragedy that struck so many people. We should do the same for this. Together let’s unite as a community and not treat each other badly like we have with racism. Let’s come together like we have in the past. 

Esther continued, “To me, hope is kind of like a light in a dark room. Something that can keep you from sercoming to the darkness, something that keeps your spirits high.” Paul Hoover also says, “In order to thrive as human beings, we need to be able to hope for a better tomorrow and have a realistic pathway to get there…Christian hope is rooted in Christ, and in the promises of God, that He will never leave or forsake us, and that He works all things together for our ultimate good and to show His glory and goodness…if it’s rooted in Christ, it can never be taken away.”

Trauma is another big part of our situation with brokenness but then healing. Hope is a big part of that healing as well. Hope isn’t just an emotion that you feel but also something that helps you drive forward and keep moving.

Mike Sapp, a psychologist from the Trauma Resource Institute, said, “We prefer to define trauma as something that happens: one,  too much too fast; or two, to little or too much for too long. Accordingly, trauma can include racism (too much or too little for too long), car accidents (too much, too fast), and other ‘events’ that might be single-events or ongoing-events. We also like to note that ‘perception is key.’ That is, what might be considered ‘too much, too fast’ for me, may not be considered such by someone else. Trauma then is in the eye of the beholder.” 

Of course there are the different responses to trauma, for example, flight or freeze, part of survival instincts. Sapp continued, “These automatic responses that we don’t ‘choose’-our survival part of the brain and body goes into action often well before our thinking part of the brain does[….]This is an elegant design[…]” 

How do we heal if our instincts get stuck in those survival instincts? Sapp answered that question: “Healing from traumatic experiences often involves being able to learn how to become ‘unstuck.’ In doing so, our thinking part of the brain can come back on-line so we can engage life from our best selves.” Hope also is a part of the healing of the traumatic experience. “Yes. No doubt. Because we focus on the brain and body, we talk about terms like neuroplasticity. What this means is that the brain can change. I would argue that this is the neuroscience term of ‘hope.’” Sapp said.

 How do we change the brain to fix the “stuck” phase? “If we use and practice certain skills designed to reset the nervous system we can experience change. This is neuroplasticity. The brain can change. Things can get better (i.e., we don’t have to live in distress). Adversity is not destiny. That is hope,” Sapp answered. Moving onward may be the hardest part of any traumatic experience. To heal the mind to move forward is that, “We can learn new skills that help reset the nervous system. If we can do that, we tap into the brain and body’s natural ability to heal.” It’s not easy to move forward from this experience that we’ve all endured. But what we can do is have hope and heal.

We were divided in a tragedy but we came together in the end. We had hope and encouragement. We held each other and comforted each other because we loved each other. We must live to the fullest to leave something people will remember us by and know we were a person worth a priceless amount. And do not forget the hope that still resides in the world today, the hope that has been in the world for thousands of years–the same hope that rose people from the dead and healed crippled and blind people. That hope is still here and will never leave. That is the lesson that we can learn from the shooting. Don’t ever forget that.