I don't blog on political topics, or generally controversial ones, but I have something to say today.
So, you might have seen or heard about today being Spirit Day, as a sort of awareness/memorial for the kids who recently committed suicide as a result of bullying. Bullying for their sexual orientation. While I don't believe homosexuality is right, here's what I do believe: Bullying is absolutely WRONG. In any context, by any person, and towards any difference.
When I was young, I wore the most awful glasses. Being severely nearsighted, they looked like someone had lopped off the bottoms of coke bottles and put them in frames. Since I was 3 months old, I had those glasses, until I was 12 and was able to be fitted for contact lenses. That was probably the best thing my parents ever did for me. Because if I hadn't been able to get away from that image of myself, I might have tried to commit suicide.
Sounds extreme, right? Just wearing glasses made me a target. From the time I was old enough to be in school, on through to graduating high school, I was bullied, picked on, made fun of, and generally looked down on for my glasses and appearance. I was called medusa, I had a classmate whose mother was my teacher in 6th grade call me a bitch less than 10 feet away from his mom, who did nothing. I was subject to grunting ape noises in late middle school, rude nicknames, and I'm sure if I'd been less self-aware, I would have been subject to a variety of pranks I saw being done to my other misfit classmates and friends.
My response to all that was to turn glacially cold to everyone. I had few friends in high school, and the people I was friends with were subject to the same sort of treatment. My best friend, P, once said he understood what the kids who committed mass murder at Columbine must have felt like, to do what they did. I don't excuse or condone it, but I GET IT. Push a person so far, and you will get some unpleasant results when they snap.
I never did. My friends never did. We survived, moved on, found people who weren't awful to us. But the scars remain. And to all my classmates who were bullied that I never tried to help? I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
I tried to be a bully, once. When I was in 4th grade, I drew a nasty picture of one of my classmates and passed it around. Another classmate, far more compassionate than I (or far less insecure, who knows) reported me, and I got in serious trouble. I never bullied again, because I took the consequences of that seriously. So many kids today don't. I remember when I did that, how much it was to try and bolster my own self-esteem, to try and make myself look good to the people who so looked down on me. I wanted to belong. And to a degree I get that kids do the things they do for the same reasons, but a lot of them don't learn to STOP IT. I did, but I never learned to stand up against it.
So even if I get nothing else out of today, I got the reminder to stand against bullying. To stand against any sign of man's inhumanity to man. I don't want any kids I know to think it's ok to do that, to be victimizers or victims. I want us all to be people who love. Isn't that more important than looking cool?