A teacher in New York decided to honour all of her high school seniors by telling each of them how much of a difference they made. Using the Who I Am Makes A Difference Ceremony, she called each student to the front of the class, one at a time. First, she told the class how that student made a difference to her. Then, she presented each of them with a Who I Am Makes A Difference Blue Ribbon.
Afterwards the teacher decided to do a class project to see what kind of impact acknowledgement would have on their community. She gave each of the students three more ribbons and instructed them to go out and spread this Blue Ribbon Ceremony. They were to follow up on the results, see who honoured whom and report back to the class in about a week.
One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company and honoured him for having helped him with his career planning. The boy gave him a Blue Ribbon, placing it on his shirt just above his heart. Then he gave the junior executive two extra ribbons, and said, “We’re doing a class project on acknowledgement, and we’d like you to go out and find someone to honour. Give them this Blue Ribbon, then give them the extra Blue Ribbon so they can acknowledge another person to keep this acknowledgement ceremony going. Then, please report back to me and tell me what happened.”
Later that day the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted, by the way, as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He sat his boss down and told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the Blue Ribbon and would he give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said, “Well, sure.” The junior executive took the Blue Ribbon and placed it right on his boss’ jacket above his heart. As he gave him the last extra ribbon, he said, “Would you do me a favour? Would you take this extra ribbon and pass it on by honouring someone else? The young boy who first gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going to find out how it affects people.”
That night the boss went home to his 14-year-old son and sat him down. He said, “The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me a Blue Ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I’m a creative genius. Then he put this Blue Ribbon that says Who I Am Makes A Difference on my jacket above my heart. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find someone else to honour. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honour with this ribbon and I thought about you. I want to honour you.
“My days are really hectic and when I come home I don’t pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school or for your bedroom being a mess. But somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You’re a great kid and I love you!”
The startled boy started to sob and sob. He couldn’t stop crying. His whole body shook. He got up, walked over to a drawer, opened it and took out a gun. Holding the gun in his hand, he looked up at his father and through his tears he said, “I was planning on committing suicide tomorrow, Dad, because I didn’t think you loved me. Now I don’t need to.”
(Copyright ©2006 Helice Bridges)
- Remember, who you are makes a difference to the people around you. Make that difference count positively.
- When last did you tell the people in your life that who they are makes a difference to you? Why? How will you change this?