My school environment is very negative for my spiritual growth. Cursing, profane jokes, and vulgar conversations are a norm for all of my peers. I find myself losing a grip on my inner temple and my own personality when I am in this environment. How do I stay centered as I participate in my school’s activities and how do I prevent losing myself when I interact with my peers?
—Paige, United States
You are not alone. Why is it that the behavior you write about is so common in our culture? Even as an adult it is sometimes difficult to find others with a refined spirit. I am not talking about people who can play the violin and drink expensive wine, but people who are sensitive to the realities of others and who are committed to higher ideals. Most of us have seen movies that make disrespect and vulgar language seem like something all teens do if they want to be popular. The truth is that these actions are signs of unhappiness and discontent. A first step for you would be to look around your school to see if there are any teachers who are trying to offer a “safe haven” for their students. This might take the form of a service club or discussion group. Sometimes churches sponsor these types of activities, which could be fun if they aren’t too dogmatic in their approach. I’d also like to invite you to be a part of our teen forum that we are getting off the ground at www.edforlife.org (go to “Get Involved” and then “Teen Forum”). Our goal is to create a place for teens like yourself to meet and inspire each other. In the meantime you could write and share ideas with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Irene and Nitai