There's a loud thud of metal vibrating as two boys slam into lockers in front of me, fists at each other’s throats. Words spewing from the mouths of their tormentor, insults dripping with profanity and humiliation. The attacked are angry, and they try to fight back but are over powered by the shear brute strength fueled by hate that is pinning them to the lockers. I gulp, not fully grasping what I am witnessing, and turn to leave, but I shouldn't. I think I need to get help, I need to alert a teacher or the principal, I need to help and I need to say something. I stand still for what seems like an hour, and my goodness is overpowered by my flight response and instead of telling, I run. I don't want to get involved, or worse, get hurt so I run. Because I ran that time, and so many other times when names are shouted and giggles at others' expense are shared, I am a bully. I am a bullier of people larger than me, less popular than I, with mental conditions. I bully them with silence, when others jeer and laugh, I nod and let out small laughs because standing up for what is right would make me just as weird as the person they're picking on. I know so many kind people who are roped into second-hand bullying, and I know their burden. We don't want to be picked on, we don't want to be talked about, just like everyone else in the world we just want to be liked. Sometimes that means disliking people you hardly know, sometimes it is running in the other direction instead of stopping to help, but this is what you have to do. But when did hurting other people instead of encouraging and loving them become popular? Why can't we settle our arguments civilly and communicate clearly instead of letting our fists do the talking? Sometimes the silence of a witness is even more of a problem than the physical bullying itself. If we would actually stand up like we say we want to, like we are taught to, instead of blending into the background to look cool, who knows what could be halted? I am embarrassed of my generation, and I am saddened for the future. If we don’t stop it now, if we don’t give the attackers the satisfaction, then we win. The outcasts win, everyone wins, and no one has to be afraid or upset. That’s where we could live, that is where we should live, and that is what I want for my future, and the future of everyone else.
A Plea to Halt the Hate
May 24, 2012