An unscientific study of most adults would tell you that they still recall the dread of being the last one picked as the teams shaped up in gym class or worse, self organized on the playground. The same adults would readily admit that if this was the extent of bullying today we would all be just fine.
Two years ago I stood in an unexpectedly large crowd outside of a McDonald’s in Rosedale, Maryland. Signs and press littered the parking lot, raucous onlookers demanding answers, and a microphone being tapped to call attention to the reason that we gathered – in support of peace, and Chrissy Polis.
I hope you remember, that Chrissy is the transgendered woman who was beaten in the bathroom of this same McDonald’s restaurant while witnesses, instead of helping, filmed the whole attack and posted it on YouTube. Chrissy recently shared her story in an hour-long interview on WYPR.
The same week that Chrissy’s interview aired, Postsecret founder, Frank Warren, silenced the room at the American Visionary Art Museum’s event in Baltimore when he presented a slideshow of bedroom doors that had been punched in – sent to him from across the world from children who were afraid of their own parents breaking down their doors. Warren then admitted one of those photos could very well have been of his own door to his childhood room.
“You see,” he said. “There are the secrets we keep from others, and then there are the secrets we keep from ourselves.”
It was a powerful night as panelists recalled stories of being bullied, bullying, being afraid to stand up to bullies, and working to empower children and adults alike to stand up for themselves and to break their own cycle of violence.
The crowd sat in stunned silence as a woman stood to say she lost her daughter just last year to a cyber bullying-related suicide, largely because authorities didn’t take her concerns about the threats seriously. Perhaps we were even more hushed as the event ended with a couple dozen brave souls who stood and shared a six-word story of their own experiences – fear, abuse, violence, brokenness, forgiveness, redemption and reclamation – to name a few.
The ugliness we inflict on one another just hung there. Almost universally the people who were hurt so badly as children, are those who hurt other people. NPR’s This American Life profiled a story just this past weekend that voraciously proved this point yet again.
While bullying 2013 looks far different than getting called out (or rather, left behind) on the playground, the Chrissys and the Franks, and all of us are not only learning to stand up for ourselves, but what it takes to be the difference in someone else’s life – to perhaps change that trajectory, and break that cycle of violence.
Here’s what we can do right now:
- Sign on to mentor youth and young adults
- Stand up for legislation that makes it unacceptable to practice hate
And perhaps, most importantly, we can be honest with ourselves about our own history – and our own secrets.
Today, there are more avenues than ever to practice violence towards one another. We can’t forget that we too have the power, right and yes, obligation, to turn them into tools for justice, and peace.
Campaign Consultation, Inc.