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Cardboard silhouettes representing 18 Minnesota victims who died as the result of domestic violence were brought on to the stage at Wednesday’s luncheon. Susan Keehn and Al Godfrey read the names of the victims and how they were killed. (Echo Press photo by Al Edenloff)

You can bounce back from tragedy

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Jermaine Davis lost six family members to violence while growing up in the inner city of Chicago.

Five were shot to death and one was stabbed.

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But he persevered, set goals for himself, had help from mentors, gave back to others in return and today, delivers inspiring messages of hope and empowerment.

Those who attended the 13th annual Domestic Abuse Awareness Luncheon on Wednesday rose to their feet after hearing Davis’ speech. The event was organized by Someplace Safe and United Communities Advocating Non-Violence.

Davis, an educator, author and presenter, offered insights into how people can bounce back from traumatic experiences. He quoted inspirational and motivational messages from many sources:

From The Diary of Anne Frank: “The final forming of a person’s character lies within one’s own hands.”

From Davis’ mother, who told him every day: “You were born to do great things.” Having that kind of positive reinforcement on a regular basis is powerful, Davis said.

The Platinum Rule (an upgrade from The Golden Rule): “Treat people the way they want to be treated.” Davis said that people have about 20,000 “moments” every day that are about three second long each. He said that a lot of that time should be used to offer positive encouragement that lifts other people’s spirits.

From Newton’s laws of motion describing inertia: An object will move in the same direction unless acted upon by an unseen force. Davis encouraged the crowd to be the inertia that brings about change, freeing others from the fears that keep them imprisoned.

From Zig Ziglar: “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude.” Davis added that positive people see adversity as temporary, not permanent.

From Booker T. Washington: Practice the formula of C + R = success/failure. The C is circumstance and how you respond (the R) dictates your success.

From an inspirational colleague: “I’m taking my mess and turning it into a message.” Davis said people need to make peace with the bad things that happen to them. They should stop the negative thinking that prevents them from believing in themselves. He said that 77 percent of the internal dialogue people have is negative.

From Helen Keller: “I am because of Anne Sullivan [the teacher who taught her how to read Braille and communicate].” Davis said that having that kind mentorship, knowing that someone believes in you, can break cycles.

From Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Davis also talked about the importance of “getting gritty.” He said people can develop grit by setting goals and accomplishing them through passion and perseverance.

He also encouraged each attendee to discover their TAGS – their talents, abilities, gifts and skills.

Davis ended his presentation by talking about “the dash” – the line on a tombstone that separates a person’s date of birth from the day they die. He said it doesn’t matter when you were born or when you die; it’s how you will spend the time in-between.

“How are you going to use your dash?” he asked.

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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