Stop the bullying!
Stop the bullying!
This blog often addresses issues of individual health. Today I would like to address a national illness: bullying. In his recent book, The Time of our Lives, NBC Broadcaster Tom Brokaw wrote, “Now there’s a new form of injustice in schools across the nation: the anonymous taunts and vitriolic mocking designed to hurt and belittle a target for his or her adolescent awkwardness, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
“There have been bullies as long as there has been adolescence, but the Internet tools of videos, anonymous postings, and profane attacks have taken this ancient cruelty to a new level. It is an appropriate subject for parents, schools, communities, and grandparents to take up with the youngsters on the giving and receiving end” (p. 255). It is also an appropriate subject for this blog.
Another young man has committed suicide after being cyber-bullied. Fourteen-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn, Jr., of Iowa, killed himself last Saturday night as a result of death threats on his cell phone and being bullied by a Facebook hate group. Another Facebook group has set up a memorial space for this young man and one post commented, “Unfortunately, the culture most of us have been raised in has been the mindset that you get ‘picked on’ in school and that’s just part of growing up.” This does not have to be.
As a medium that addresses issues with the deepest of Christian motives, I am taking this opportunity to remind readers of some of the greatest words ever uttered, “Love one another”. What happened to the God of love Jesus taught? Why is it so easy to judge others? In one of the most important discourses ever written on civility, decency and citizenship, Jesus stated, “Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them. You can see the speck in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the log in your own eye” (Matthew 7: 1-3, Contemporary English Version of the Bible).
Jesus did not teach a live of one-up-man-ship. It is cowardice that hides behind a camera or computer and projects images – both written and visual – of others. Jesus’ teachings are as revolutionary now as they were then. They teach respect and courtesy for others, lessons more important than ever for all of us – no matter our religion or even our fervor for agnosticism or atheism. This is basic human decency.
We do not all look alike, act alike, or think alike. It is time to recognize that fact and respect our differences, as well as our similarities. I had a boss many years ago who would often say, especially after a customer was difficult, “Well, we are all God’s children”, and we are!
My freshman year of high school was not an easy time for me. The school was out of control – I saw violence in the halls, drug deals in dark corners, and the smoking area outside wreaked of pot. There were no closed halls – everyone roamed where they wanted, when they wanted. It was chaos. One particular gang rambled throughout the school finding someone weaker than themselves. They would follow them, get them alone and beat them up. One day I was their victim. After they left, I found my friend, Bruce, who sat with me and just listened to me vent – he was a true friend.
That night amidst tears, embarrassment and complete lack of self-esteem, I turned to my Bible for some comfort. What I found instead was shocking. These words of Jesus confronted me, “You have heard people say, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.’ But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you” (Matthew 5: 43, 44). I couldn’t believe that was my answer – after all, I was the victim!
I threw the book across the room and turned off the light. But those words continued to haunt me until I realized that really was the answer for me. I needed to pray for this group. Anger, disillusionment and a lack of respect by others was what they were feeling also. I resolved to overcome my fear with love. It wasn’t easy. But one day they cornered me again. This time as one of them punched me in the stomach, I actually felt no pain, just an overwhelming sense of love. The gang member looked at me puzzled, and then said, “Let’s get out of here!” and they took off. That was the end of the attacks on me.
I continued to pray for the school throughout the summer. The following school year everything had changed. There was a new administrator, the halls were clean, there were rules, and they were enforced. Halls were closed during class times, and the gang was no where to be found.
THINGS DO GET BETTER. Prayer is effective. I am praying every day for our schools, universities and young people growing up in an internet age. Our schools, churches, and communities need to be places of respect and love for all. Let’s stop the bullying!
From The Official Blog of Thomas Mitchinson, Illinois Committee on Publication – See link below: