Richard Larkin: a man of peace

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About four years ago I joined the “revolution”. I discovered Twitter and this led me to a wealth of new connections and some fascinating people.

I joined a regular Twitter discussions on education and found like-minded people, who, like me, sought change to the test-obsessed system that we have now.

One of the first people who I  found much common ground with was a retired Elementary school Principal from New England U.S.A. who had emigrated to Israel and settled down there with his family.

He was Richard Lakin and very quickly we established a Facebook friendship to accompany our Tweets to each other. I found out a lot about Richard from his posts and by reading his book “Teaching As An Act of Love”.

Richard had run a very successful school as a very popular Principal who stressed the importance of every child achieving their potential in a humane and unstressed environment. He railed against the severe testing regime that made schools such a difficult environment for teachers and pupils after “No Child Left Behind”.

We often had online discussions where he would applaud  one of the many posts I did on this blog!

I found out that Richard had been a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. One of his best memories was attending the great rally in Washington D.C. to hear the Reverend Martin Luther King deliver his never-to-be-forgotten speech “I Have a Dream”.

When he arrived in Israel Richard continued his belief in co-existence and humanity by becoming a leader in the Peace Movement. It was Richard that got me interested in the work of the Peace Movement in Israel and even to follow one of his great loves a Facebook group called “Israel Loves Iran”

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The picture on his Facebook profile summed up his hopes for a peaceful co-existence between Arabs and  Israelis. He watched the flashpoints in the ongoing problems in his country but he never stopped attending meetings for peace and using his considerable online presence to push for a reconciliation and a peaceful future for his adopted country

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A couple of weeks ago Richard attended a hospital appointment. He decided to take the 38 bus home as it was becoming dangerous to walk the streets in Jerusalem where he lived due to a recent spate of knifings and other attacks on civilians.

Two Arabs came onto the bus and attacked people indiscriminately. Richard was shot and stabbed. He was rushed to hospital where he was treated for his wounds. They managed to stabilise his condition but he never regained consciousness. He died, aged 76, on Tuesday of this week and, as is the Jewish and Arab tradition, he was given a quick burial yesterday (Wednesday October 28th).

The New York Times wrote this report on the burial:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/29/world/middleeast/champion-of-coexistence-felled-by-its-failure-is-buried-in-israel.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Like so many I will miss a person who I shared so much in common with. There is a deep irony in the manner of his death and his passion for peace. His son was interviewed yesterday following the funeral and you can see this here. I think though that the power of the the man and his desire for peace will, like his (and my) hero Dr Martin Luther King, survive the manner of his end.

I think that his legacy will live on as can be seen from the words of his granddaughter in the article:

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R.I.P. Richard you will be so missed

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