by Naeemah Jackson, Family Programs Director
On 6 July 2017, my beloved Grandson, Dyani K. Saunders-Gammon was murdered. He had been on this earth for 22 years, 4 months and 6 days. With that, how do I, the Director of Family Programming at Peace Learning Center – a seasoned Peace Educator and fierce advocate of such – how do I reconcile the anger and deep sorrow in my heart? How do I look at my work in the same optimistic way? Do I allow my rage and grief to drag me into the waters of revenge and hate? Or, do I seize this moment to lay bare my pain to myself; and search for inner paths that lead to what largesse I can muster for his killer?
Is my Truth wide enough – deep enough –high enough to wrap arms around the person who perpetrated this heinous deed? To forgive them? To even begin to try and understand their life; their motivations; their reality? Will the lessons I teach to families fall upon my ears and hearts in the manner I hope it falls upon theirs? Bottom line, will I practice what I preach?
Will the lessons I teach to families fall upon my ears and hearts in the manner I hope it falls upon theirs? Bottom line, will I practice what I preach?
Right now, at this very moment, as I write these words, I can honestly say that I do not wish this excruciating pain and sorrow upon anyone. I do not wish this paralysis of the soul upon anyone’s family. I feel pity for the murderer’s mother. More than likely she did not seek to raise a killer.
So this is my first step towards being cocooned in the healing balms of forgiveness, resolution, and reconciliation. Where this path will take me – I do not know. What is known, however, is that my commitment to teaching Peace Education is more puissant. When our message interrupts such devastating violence – then we have won. When our work with families encourages de-escalation of conflict within and without the family – we have won.
I do not fool myself – this will be a long, hard and arduous road. But I do know where this road must lead to. It must lead to internal Peace and Reconciliation. As a family, we have no idea what our lives will be like without the physical presence of Dyani. We do know that his Spirit is alive and well; and that he is with us.
When things calm down, we will establish the “Dyani K. Saunders-Gammon Youth Travel Scholarship.” Dyani loved to travel – he had a large map of the world on his bedroom wall with push pins on the countries he wanted to visit. Through his scholarship, youth who do not have opportunities to travel outside of their neighborhoods will be able to travel and realize that this is a big, big world. That they are not relegated to a 4-block radius – that they can expand their horizons – and move beyond them. Dyani is a kind, loving, compassionate, and courageous Soul. This scholarship fund in his name is a befitting legacy and one that he approves.