Sometimes I see or hear something I’d rather not. It serves me right for being nosy. At the post office one day, I heard one of the “wish I hadn’t” conversations between two old guys.
One commented to the other, “I don’t get today’s kids.” My antennae shot up.
“They’s all spoilt,” his buddy claimed.
“They whine and complain about being bullied. When we was kids, you took it like a man and got even.”
I took issue with that. I was a kid more or less when they were and I recall both boys and girls running home crying to mamma. Those men weren’t talking to me, so I sifted through my mail and tried to stay quiet.
“Boys are all sissies nowadays,” one of them thought.
The other man grunted in agreement.
Here’s what I couldn’t say then. Get real. Bullying is a different creature now than it was when those old men and I were children. It has, over the years, become a vicious thing I know I could never endure. I cringe at the thought of any child or adult having to withstand such hateful treatment.
Even twenty years ago when my daughter was in elementary school, bullying had already morphed from what my mom would’ve called “teasing.” My little girl didn’t like dresses and she liked to wear her hair short. Her independent ways were not acceptable to one of her mean-spirited classmates. She shoved my daughter around, hit her, and called her ugly slurs that ten- year-olds shouldn’t know.
When I complained to the school superintendent, my complaints fell on deaf ears. “She needs to stand up for herself,” was her sad opinion. No. When you’re ten, and you’re being hit and pushed by a bully, you need an adult to stand up for you. Children need adults to be examples of good behavior.
I told my daughter she should shove that abusive child’s face into the wall, but my kindhearted kid just stared at me with a blank look. So I’ve not always been the best example of a fine human being. I admit it, but I learned valuable lessons from a little girl with love and patience in her heart. Looking back though, I still believe someone in authority should’ve had a talk with the bully. There should have been consequences to acting hateful and to physical assault. If the adults in charge won’t correct a child’s bad behavior, how will he or she learn anything?
Now we have children killing themselves to escape the cruelty in their lives. With the popularity of social media and cell phones, bullying has reached new intensity. A child can be bullied in front of the whole world and there is no safe place. In other words, it’s not just at school anymore.
Shame on adults. We’ve taught our children this behavior by attacking people different from us and by not standing up when we see others being attacked. If you need proof of the intolerance of grown-ups, post a controversial statement on Facebook. Instead of rational discourse, you’re more likely to get name-calling and hateful rhetoric. I’ve taken down my posts when the fighting between respondents got too ugly to bear. I have friends with differing opinions and from all walks of life, all education levels, and all nationalities. I have dear friends who will never read what I write because they can’t. But they’re brilliant human beings with their own ideas on everything. Just like you and me. Would you scream “stupid” at them? If you would, then you and I couldn’t be friends in real life.
Robin Williams recently took his own life as a result of depression. This tragedy rocked me to my core. Who doesn’t know who he is? He shared his amazing talents with us for forty years. He hadn’t been dead two hours when the bullying started. He’s been called a coward and other offensive things. Why are people so quick to judge? Do those harsh tongue-waggers know anything about clinical depression? All I could think was “shut up!” The man brought joy to us for forty years. Unless you were living in his head, then just shut up.
What has happened to us? We used to have respect for each other and we listened to each other’s ideas. As I grew up, listening to adults discuss issues helped me to form my own opinions about subjects of importance. Now we don’t want to listen to what others think and we respond in hurtful ways. Our kids are doing it and we wonder why. Way to go, Adults of America.
By the way, Old Post Office Men, boys are not sissies. Girls are not sissies. They’re human beings and they have feelings. We all do.