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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  A Revolution of the Heart
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Tuesday, April 3,2018

A Revolution of the Heart

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?   - Dorothy Day

It was right after Columbine that I got the idea for Rosey Shades. I was the guidance counselor at an elementary school here in Boca. I wondered what I could do to create a more positive climate at school, and also, more positive people in general, who might grow up to be a more hopeful and kind generation. A lofty goal, yes, but I felt I had to do something.

Cable news was new at the time and CNN was the only game in town. Who can forget watching Operation Desert Storm live? But with 24 hours to fill, news had to compete with Oprah, soap operas, sports and game shows. They needed to fill the rest of the hours with attention grabbing headlines. Anita Hill’s testimony, the O.J. Simpson trial, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Dr. Kevorkian... and Columbine. I remember feeling helpless and depressed. Kids as young as 6 and 7 years of age discussed what they saw on TV every day. I was not inundated with bad news all the time when I was growing up, so I wasn’t sure what kind of impact this would have on society at large and I wanted to do something to help the pendulum swing back in the opposite direction somehow.

So I developed Rosey Shades as a character - Rosey wears rosecolored glasses, but it’s a cool thing to do, so they’re rosey ‘shades’. I put a mailbox outside of my office that had bugs and bees and butterflies all over it and called it the “Something’s bugging me” Box. There were ladybug shaped papers and a pencil next to the mailbox and students could write to Rosey to tell her what was bugging them. Some students included their name, so I would see those students and we’d problem solve and try to find solutions and try to find the bright side. But some students wrote anonymously. I needed a way to reach them as well.

Each morning at the school we had video announcements. The art teacher had students build and decorate a set for a news segment called “On the Bright Side” and once a week, I would work with students to try to understand where a person who had this ‘thing’ bugging them felt and what we could do or say to make that person feel better. Then, they would go on the news, wearing rosey shades, and discuss the problem, some solutions, and also make sure the person felt heard.

I left elementary school and moved up to high school to teach history. The program ended. The story books never got published. And another mass shooting just happened in my hometown. Did Rosey’s compassion and empathy help anyone who might have later gone off the deep end? We will never know. We don’t know the impact of kindness, love and understanding, but we do know the impact of the absence of them.

We need more good news. We need a society that breeds more hope than fear. We need people to feel happy and secure enough that they reach out to others and offer compassion and kindness as part of their normal daily routine, rather than always worrying about themselves first. We need a revolution of the heart. Love is the only antidote. Love. Genuine love for humanity. Even people you disagree with. Even those who don’t love you back. Even those who don’t seem deserving. Maybe those people especially.


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