No parent should have to bury a child … No mother should have to bury a son. Mothers are not meant to bury sons. It is not in the natural order of things.
Thee words came to mind as I visited The Broken Dreams Project in Second Life, as a result of a suggestion by friend Miro Collas. Created and managed by Jared Palianta, The Broken Dream Project is a memorial to those who have taken or lost their lives in recent times as a result of the intolerance of their peers or the through the hatred / violence of others.
Set as a simple park occupying one-quarter of a Homestead region The Broken Dreams Project is a place of quiet contemplation and reflection. A place where – in a world where bigotry, hatred, political violence, zealotry (both religious and political) seem to be once again on the rise (although the question must be asked, did they ever really go away?) – pause can be taken to reflect on the level of senseless violence and hatred can be visited upon others.
This project is dedicated to the memory of
those who have lost their battle from Hatred
and Bullying. Your memories live on in this
sombre marbled garden dedicated to
everyone who has endured Hatred and Bullying
because of their sexual orientation, race,
creed, and religious backgrounds. Free from
persecution, your memory lives on inside
– From The Broken Dreams Project dedication stone, by Evan Greymyst.
Flanking the landing point are memorials to young people who have taken their lives as a result of bullying and hatred, together with the park’s dedication stones. Around these are several more memorial areas dedicated to those who have lost their lives or been injured through schools shootings, victims of religious extremism (9/11 and the May 2017 Manchester arena bombing); hate crimes and violent act on the basis of their sexuality (such as the 1978 Louisiana Gay Pride Day fire-bombing and the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shootings), acts of US domestic terrorism (the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma and the 2015 San Bernadino shootings) and mass shootings in the United States, such as the 2017 Las Vagas shooting that left 58 people dead and over 400 (of 851 total injuries) injured by gunfire.
These are simple, plain speaking memorials, some of which can be especially hard-hitting, such as the section listing the young people who have lost their lives as a result of shootings in US schools in the 17 years 2 months to February 2018 (and which has yet to be updated with the victims of the Parkland attack of February 2018), as well as all those inured as a result of such shootings. This is a particularly sobering corner of the memorial as it indicates that the first 17 years of this century have already seen the number of US school shooting related deaths exceed the number seen in the last 40 years of the 20th century.
As well as the memorials, The Broken Dreams Project also offers information on a range of support groups both without and within Second Life, including rape support, assistance for those experiencing bullying and hatred on the grounds of their sexuality, or who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or suffering mental anguish. This information includes note cards, telephone help line numbers, website addresses, and (where relevant) landmarks to in-world groups – all of which makes The Broken Dreams Project something of a valuable resource. I would perhaps suggest making the website links given on of the information walls clickable so that people can be taken directly to the pages, but this is really a very minor point.
With an understandable US bias, The Broken Dreams Project is a place for quiet reflection for anyone who has lost a friend or loved one as a result of senseless violence or the result of suicide, no matter what their age. Donations are welcome from those wishing to support the project, and can be made via the donation boxes located around the park’s footpaths.
- The Broken Dreams Project (Reckless, rated: Moderate)