I am in awe of our next Charter for Compassion Karen Armstrong Humanitarian Awardee: Scarlett Lewis. The day of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting during which Jesse Lewis was murdered is etched in my brain. Scarlett, his mother, founded the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation and challenges us:
"My challenge to you is this: Be mindful of practicing your courage to choose love — every day, in every interaction and in every situation," Lewis said. "Remember, you have a choice. In every decision, we are either choosing love or fear."
Scarlett Lewis is a super-survivor and one of the United States' most high-profile architects of change. She founded the Choose Love Movement after her son, Jesse, was murdered during the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in December 2012. It is one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. At six years old, Jesse, alongside 19 of his first-grade classmates and six educators, died. Yet law enforcement says Jesse used his final moments to heroically save nine of his friends.
Shortly after his death, Scarlett decided to be part of the solution to the issues that we're seeing in our society today—and that also caused the tragedy. She created the Choose Love Movement and became an advocate for character development and social and emotional learning (SEL), which teaches children how to manage their emotions, feel connected, and have healthy relationships. The resulting life skills program she developed, the "Choose Love Formula" has been taught to more than 2 million kids and adults. This inter-generational educational program is taught in all 50 US states and in more than 100 countries.
Before his death, Jesse left a message on their kitchen chalkboard, "Norturting Helinn Love" (Nurturing, Healing Love). When Scarlett learned that these words are included in the definition of "compassion" across all cultures, she realized that love, connection, and belonging are universal wants and needs that connect all of humanity.
Can you imagine how special our Compassion Banquet on August 16 will be? Join us, if you can, or consider making a donation to the Charter in their name.
With warm regards,