I have been thinking about writing this post to my blog for quite some time. Something else always came up, partly because I think I was avoiding this particular topic. The topic is bullying and today I can no longer avoid writing about it.
On facebook someone sent me a request to join a cause that is fighting to prevent teen suicide due to bullying. Old memories suddenly presented themselves, as they are wont to do at the slightest provocation. I found myself remembering experiences in Junior High. That was 7th-9th grade for me. Back then I was a rather unusual kid. I loved musical theatre. I loved to sing. I dreamt of being an actor. These things don't seem unusual now, but at the age of 12-14, these things were considered strange by the boys who dreamt of sports or following in daddie's footsteps.
I was never timid about expressing myself to anyone who would listen to me. Perhaps that was where I went wrong. I started hearing the word "fag" at age 12. I wasn't sure what that meant but I knew it was not a compliment. It went from something whispered behind my back to something that was said directly to my face. Then I began to get offers to fight some of the older boys at school. Then they began waiting for me to get off the bus on my way home. I didn't want to fight them. I didn't have any idea how to fight. I tried just ignoring them. That wasn't working. They became more cruel and agressive. I finally began riding my bike the 3 miles to my school to avoid these confrontations.
Eventually, as my singing and acting began to be recognized for the special talents and gifts they were, the teasing subsided. I developed a group of friends, many of them older, who helped me create a certain respect. I was released from these bullies by refusing to be intimidated and by following the beat of my own drum. I refused to give in to the pressure to conform and I won.
My message here is not that I was strong enough to keep from succumbing to pier pressure. The message is about those who are not that strong. Not every child has the supportive and loving family that I had. Not every child is as driven and self-assured as I was. For many this form of abuse is overwhelming. Feeling that they have nowhere else to turn, they feel that life is just not worth the effort. Too many take their own lives. Too many adults turn a blind eye, or worse, consider this as some right of passage. This is what must stop. The general apathy towards bullying is unacceptable and it is up to us to stop it.
Sadly there are many adult bullies out there as well. We even attempt to ignore them even after we have grown up (hopefully). We owe it to our kids and grandkids to stand up to the bullies around us, no matter what their age. If we remain silent on this issue, how do we expect little boys and girls to stand up for themselves. We have to take the love we feel for one another and protect those who are vulnerable, whether they are old or young. We make a difference, but only when we choose to stand up. I urge you to join me. Make a difference by putting fear (not common sense) aside. Expose the bullies among us. Let them know how hurtful they are. Ostrasize them. Isolate them. Never put up with hate speach. Never allow negatives to outweigh positives. If there ever has been such a thing as a devil, negativity is the equivolent. Love is the antidote.
Peace and Love,