Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bullying Begins with Words

"Where do they get these ideas?"

October is Anti-Bullying Month and I've heard some version of that question repeated over and over in different environments. Adults are shocked and shaken when they find out the magnitude of bullying that takes place in schools, on civic campuses, and in cyberspace. The latest trend is suicide by bullying. A number of young people have taken their own lives because this form of terrorism is so unbearable.

We just lost another youth to suicide here. The person was bullied in school and in her social life and she took her own life because she was discovering herself and her sexuality and found her budding affections were for the same gender. She was called “fag” and teased and “outed” by peers.

This scenario has repeated itself all over the United States and has prompted many professionals, teachers, legal analysts and leaders to develop materials for youth to combat bullying. The materials are coming from reputable sources like the Southern Poverty Law Center and Voices Education Project and accompany a new movement called “It Gets Better” which gives youth a forum and hope that life is better after high school. It is designed to let kids hang on while being battered with words.

Of course the communities are aghast at this trend. Neighborhoods are shocked. Schools and educators and clergy are outraged by this behavior of children terrorizing other children. They are concerned about the predator mentality and cruelty exhibited by youth. They wonder how youth can have developed this aggression and cruelty at such a young age? They are confounded, dumbfounded and are at a loss to understand it. Shock and outrage accompany the trauma and drama of it and prevent a real examination of this trend toward human indifference and lack of empathy for others.

Something really important is being missed in this movement...

A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...