Video: Claire Connelly
Heaven Sutton appeared to be a typical bright-eyed, smiley, seven-year old. Her mother, Ashaka Banks, described her as a “little diva” who loved to have her hair styled and to wear high-heeled shoes. Equally typical was Wednesday, June 28th, the last night of her short life that she spent with her friends playing outside of her home, enjoying a dreamy, warm summer evening. Not typical was the gang-infested Chicago-Austin neighborhood she lived in. At about 10:40 PM as her family was getting ready to go inside an all-too-familiar scene repeated itself. A group of people including Heaven was approached by two gun-bearing thugs who opened fire on them, injuring a nineteen-year old and critically wounding Heaven with a gunshot wound to the chest as she ran toward her house. She later died at Loyola University Medical Center.
After several shootings in her West Side neighborhood, Heaven had begged her mother to move. Ashaka Banks said her daughter’s murder was “senseless” and remembered Heather’s dream of seeing Disney World. Heaven’s dream was snuffed out by two thugs, more than likely on a gang-related mission. How many more children have to die before they have begun to live until we can gain control over the violence riddling many of our city neighborhoods?
ORIGINAL: By LoveSocial and Miss Representation. Found on Miss Representation’s Vimeo page by Spark and submitted by intern Kaye Toal.
“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” ~Elbert Hubbard
“Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Lawrence Bland @LawrenceBland
“The more I see, the less I know for sure.” – John Lennon
As my beloved Siberian husky nears her twelfth birthday next month, I treasure the years we’ve shared, and dread the thought of losing her… simply cannot imagine what life will be like without her …she’s truly one of the world’s most gentle dogs. Even though she’s slowing down, my dog does her best to keep fit, demanding her walk/runs no less than twice a day. Although she’s been skunked twice, and has terrorized her fair share of squirrels, she’s a sweet-tempered soul who’s never afraid to speak up for herself by letting her wants and needs be known, and for perfecting this skill she receives my admiration.
Siberian’s have a notorious reputation for being cat killers, and trust the dog was far from pleased the day a grey and white cat came to dinner. My husky watched him closely those first few days, and when the cat made his decision to stay, I learned three crucial life lessons from my dog: the importance of patience, the need for resiliency, and what it means to be truly tolerant. Over time a deep friendship formed, and the dog and cat are now nothing short of kindred spirits. When the cat’s hunt proves successful, he proudly brings his prize home… but not to me… instead he delivers his gift to the dog who allowed him to stay and flourish in a home where animals are always welcome… after all, it is from our animals that we are taught what it means to love unconditionally.
The above 7/28/81 YouTube clip features actor Jimmy Stewart reading a poem about his dog named Beau on the Johnny Carson show. Should you be fortunate enough to know the unconditional love of a dog, a tissue may be needed.
Recently Americans were appalled by a video of middle school students bullying their sixty-seven year old bus monitor. For most of her ordeal Karen Klein sat quietly, sometimes sobbing, while the little hellions physically and verbally harassed her. Especially hurtful was being told she didn’t have a family … that they had all killed themselves because they didn’t want to be around her. It is unclear if the children who said this knew her son had committed suicide. Afterward during an interview when asked why she hadn’t responded more harshly, she explained she was afraid she might lose her job. Karen makes $15,000 a year.
Children mirror the culture surrounding them. If these middle school children are a reflection of our society, at first glance it looks like we’re in trouble. In a world that gives us daily reminders of just how despicable mankind can be, we could feel that humanity can’t sink much lower. But then someone performs an act of redemption by setting up an Internet fund to give Karen a well-deserved vacation. Others follow that lead, sending notes and flowers of encouragement and donating over half a million dollars. Their gifts, a relieving balm on Karen Klein’s painful wounds, stir a flutter of hope in the hearts of the rest of us…and remind us that we are also capable of great good.