Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'll be Wearing Purple Today

In support of every person who has ever gotten picked on, every child who is bullied in a school yard for being different, no matter what that difference was,  I will be wearing Purple.

It isn't just the spate of gay teens that had had enough of being bullied every day by people that think it was acceptable because a sick and twisted version of a "religion" has told them it is right to pummel them every day when school lets out.  It just isn't right that it happens, ever. 

Being bullied is not a character building exercise.  It is violence.  It leads a child who should be brought up to strive to be the next Einstein to underachieve or to even take their lives because people around them didn't care enough to notice that something went wrong. 

It is not normal to be taunted because you are of a "different" religion.
It is not normal to be beat up after school because you have different hair color.
It is not normal to be harmed because you are not in the in crowd because of some sick and twisted arbitrary standard.

It will get better, trust me.

I had went to a Catholic High School.  The place had a tradition of hazing by upperclassmen upon the freshmen when they got in.  It was well known by the school hierarchy of teachers and counselors and ignored.  I watched each of my friends and co-classmen get picked on by a motley crew of some pretty underachieving students.   They got to me in Sophomore year.  I had my own problems and didn't need that.

I also stopped that tradition, personally. 

One of the ring leaders decided that one day he'd hassle me on the way to class.   It was right before the Christmas Break and it occurred to me that he didn't have the right.   I got through that and went to class and had two weeks to think about it.  He was short, fat and not that good looking and felt he could take it out on everyone else.   Typical for someone like that - in a dog it is called Fear Aggression, the common displacement of your own inadequacies on others.

Two weeks later, I met the same dumpy little guy and had had quite enough.  He started by slowing me down by grabbing the jacket that I had to wear as a part of going to this hallowed institution.  They should have paid more attention to the character of the students than what they wore, but that is typical of most institutions of that sort. 

What Mr Short and Dumpy didn't realize was that I had my growth spurt.  Over the two weeks of the christmas holiday, I grew 2 inches in height.  Somehow, subconsciously I realized this and subconsciously I knew I had more power than before.  

He hung on by my jacket and I stopped.   In front of an open locker, I turned around grabbed him by the shoulders and slammed him inside and locked him in.  The rest of the wolf pack scattered.

Going to Homeroom, the word went around and everyone was silent, including the teacher.  They all knew what happened. 

Over the intercom, the Dean of Students read a list of two names, Mine and the Bully.

When at the Dean's office I was asked Two Simple Questions:
Did You Do It? "Yes"
Would You Do It Again? "Absolutely"

Thank you, you can go back to class.

He got two weeks of detention.

I went on to single handedly break the tradition of hazing in Camden Catholic High School of Cherry Hill NJ.

So you see if you're being bullied and think you're alone, you are not.   People notice.  Once in a while that kid who is being picked will make a difference and make things better.   You will get through it.  

Even if you are in a backwater of a town where you're the only one - what ever that is, you will get through it.  You will realize that it isn't YOUR problem, it is Theirs.  Once you're out of school you can make up your own mind whether you really need to stay in such a place.  After all the big cities are typically much more openminded since they have to be.  Join a crowd and no matter what your difference, you will find someone just like you.   If the town only has 1600 people, it is easier to stick out.

I hear that today's schools have a zero tolerance policy in effect toward bullying in many places.  It is very different than when I went through that particular hell that was Camden Catholic High School and left my own stamp on their society.  Even with Diversity training, Teachers are not perfect.  Most are underpaid and undermotivated.  There were a few at CCHS that were shining examples of the philosophy of what a Teacher should strive to be, it wasn't ALL bad even if at times it felt it was.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the suicide of the Gay people across the country for various kinds of bullying.  The videotaping of the guy at Rutgers was offensive in many ways.   There are people who will be bullied tomorrow, but at least now it is in everyone's mind to try to stop it.

It won't stop but there is no reason why it should be so bad that someone will feel the need to kill themselves.

You will get through it.  I did. 

Don't go silently though - make sure that people who say they care about you know what you are going through.  Going through things alone will only make things harder to deal with.

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