I’ve watched this clip (or a version thereof) twice now and I know that watching it another dozen times won’t change how it makes me feel and how I will tear up once more.
His words are beautiful and powerful and nothing but the truth.
Looking back at my own childhood, which started out in East Germany, I don’t remember that it has ever been as bad as it is nowadays. I lived a sheltered childhood, one of freedom.
And I have always been the strong one. I don’t think I have ever been bullied. I do remember two occasions of bullying someone, though. Once in defense of myself, my brother and my classmates against a girl who always fought us viciously, biting and scratching. Yes, we called her names, and I’m not proud of having given her reason to apparently hate us so much that she fought like a cat. We never touched her physically, but one day we all came together and decided that enough was enough and she just couldn’t keep scratching and biting us.
It was not fair to have six people surround one person to try and force her to stop. We were kids and we didn’t see any other way. It’s not a good excuse and our teacher called us out and in front of the whole class threatened to tell our parents what we’d done.
I stood up for all of us, even her, and explained to our teacher what had happened and why. We didn’t want to bully her or beat her, name calling was nothing anyone of us considered a big deal and back then it never went further than that.
Today I know better. I know what we did wasn’t right and I’m not proud of it, but I did make my teacher understand and after that nothing like it ever happened again. In a way I believe we called a truce. Kids fight and want to sort it out amongst themselves.
On my report card at the end of that school year my teacher wrote that I could be very convincing. I was proud of that.
I was ten years old.
A year, maybe two after that the group of boys I used to run around with and myself decided to tease a boy, who mouthed off to us. We surrounded him shouting at him to pull down his pants. Again, we didn’t touch him, we just chorused that he should be pulling down his pants. We wanted to humiliate him and we succeeded.
It’s the one thing I regretted doing as soon as I got home. I’ve never done anything like it ever again and even today I sometimes remember and feel bad about it. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone about it.
I never even knew his name and only ever saw him again from a distance after that day.
They say kids are cruel, some more than others, that is true. But I don’t believe that this is all there is to it. I don’t know what possessed me that day. I’ve always been more of a leader than a follower, even though I tend to hide that. I don’t want to be the center of attention, even though I could just as easily be. I want to do the right thing and be a good person, even though I don’t always succeed.
I was a bit of an awkward teen, that’s how I saw myself anyway, tall and lanky and crushing on my female friends. But I always got along with everyone and never listened to any stupid boys, who made demeaning remarks. In our eyes none of this constituted for bullying, not compared to what is going on today.
For crying out loud, I eventually came out, along with my brother and our entire year (most of them anyways) knew that we were gay, as well as two of our friends. We were never bullied because of that. No one even really commented on it other than in jest.
Granted, we were a pretty left leaning school and I think at some point we’d grown out of being mean to each other and actually started respecting one another even if we didn’t all like each other.
Today this might be different. I know my now 17 year old cousin had a pretty rough time for a while. She’s a good girl, doesn’t get into trouble. She’s also a big girl, tall, of strong build and developed pretty early. She doesn’t look like anyone could harm her, but for a while she was struggling. I admit, I don’t know what it is like for her now, but she has friends, who are looking out for her and she’s doing better at school.
But to think that there are kids out there, who want to kill themselves, and often most definitely harm themselves, because they are bullied in such a manner that they loathe themselves is mind-boggling. This has nothing to do with kids being cruel.
That transcends cruelty.
I feel bad over one isolated instance in my childhood, twenty years gone. How do bullies feel, who caused someone else to kill themselves? Do they realize it was them, who did that? Is there any remorse, realization? Can there ever be redemption?
Many kids are being bullied nowadays. And from what I understand it has nothing to do with what we did as kids. It is systematic and merciless, and remorseless as well it appears.
No one is safe, not even adults.
I feel powerless. The only thing I feel I can do is share this link to this video for everyone to watch it, because it is all that needs to be said, all that needs to be heard and understood.
We’re all so flawed, we’ve all had moments of being mean or even demeaning to someone. It’s not a nice feeling. But this doesn’t need to continue. It is up to each and everyone of us to stop being jerks and start being kind.
Would you want to be treated like that? No. Have you been treated like that? Then why do you feel the need to do this to someone else, who’s done you no harm?
Life is too short as it is. And it’s never going to be easy. Why make it any harder on others and yourself?
Watch it again, will you, and then start to apologize.
Start being kind and share the link.