Spring 2001


"On Random Acts of Kindness"
An Open Letter to the Students of
Columbine High School

by Greg Hatstat



"High school graduation is truly one of life’s maturing experiences and will likely open your eyes to a whole new world. It can be scary, but worth the wait."

As I sit with the news of yet another school shooting weighing heavily on my mind, I feel compelled to act. To do something to change the way in which we as a society have chosen to resolve conflict. Unfortunately there is little one can do once someone has decided on a path of violence and self-destruction as a means of righting the wrongs done to him . . . except to throw oneself in front of that path in a desperate attempt to break the chain of events. It has been said that it’s impossible to negotiate with someone willing to die for the cause. The hope is that there is a great deal we can do to help defuse a situation before it reaches such a self-destructive state. That hope is grounded in the most basic of human needs.

To even begin to address the problem requires one to think about the fundamental needs of all human beings and then act on those thoughts. Because it goes to the very core of the human spirit, I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t respond to such treatment. Collectively, they are called “random acts of kindness”. They come in a lot of different flavors, but have one very important common thread. They must be truly heartfelt, unsolicited, impactful acts that literally catch the recipient off guard. Believe me, it works! I’ve seen it work between brother and sister, husband and wife, coworkers, drivers, warriors, indeed the whole spectrum of human relationships.

As you are most certainly aware, life can be very hard at times, if not downright cruel. Trust me, if you live long enough you will eventually experience the worst kind of adversity. Some younger, some older. There are no exceptions. And while it can be a character builder (referred to as life’s maturing experiences), adversity shouldn’t be endured alone. No matter what, depend on family and friends to help you cope. You see this is where it all comes full circle, because they “need” to practice “RAOK” to feel fulfilled as humans.

Above all remember these “golden rules of thumb” in your dealings with others:

1. Always treat others with dignity and respect, especially who they are and where they came from. Be unwavering in this endeavor.

2. Always allow the other person a graceful way out. It helps to save face, preserve dignity and disarm conflict.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff…and at times in life it can all be considered small stuff. Be flexible and forgiving of others because you never know what kind of adversity they’re currently dealing with in their lives.

As some of you prepare to graduate this spring, you will soon find out that your priorities are going to change dramatically. You will discover that the things you once considered important have been set aside, particularly if you leave home to venture out on your own. Leaving the nest has a way of "leveling the playing field" when it comes to figuring out what’s important in life. High school graduation is truly one of life’s maturing experiences and will likely open your eyes to a whole new world. It can be scary, but worth the wait. After the tragic event of two years ago, I imagine that most of you will be ready to face any challenge that life presents.

It has been my experience that we will not be tested beyond that which we can handle. It remains to be seen how much that is. As human beings we are remarkably resilient and adaptable. Remember, no matter how difficult times can get to be that “this too shall pass”.

Greg Hatstat is a man who is no stranger to adversity. A 48 year old former U.S. Navy pilot and aeronautical engineer, he is currently grappling with a 15 year history of Parkinson’s Disease, an incurable, degenerative neurological disease. Recently, he faced his worst fears to undergo an experimental surgical procedure on his brain to help control his symptoms and restore his quality of life. In spite of the uncertainty of his future and the ultimate outcome of his disease he remains optimistic and full of life.

He has been on board with LFC since its humble beginnings functioning quietly in the background in the advisory capacity in multiple areas. As a former owner of a digital imaging company in Englewood, Colorado, his technical skills have played an important role in providing valuable guidance and troubleshooting for LFCNews.
His greatest contribution is his keen, calm and humble "Andy Griffith" persona that is a part of his nature and present in everything he pursues, whether it's offering words of encouragement, or patiently tackling a computer-related problem into the early morning hours. What a rare blessing he is in our world!


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