Enough Already!

I was lying in my bed with a heating pad on my back when my daughter came rushing into the room, shaking and pale, phone in hand. “This is bad. This is really, really bad.”

My immediate thoughts were, “Who has been massacred by guns now?” Thankfully, that wasn’t the issue, so this post isn’t really about guns. Except that it is, because I believe that the problems American society is facing are all connected.

So what was the problem? An intelligent, beautiful, young black friend of my daughters was considering suicide because she is being bullied at school, and felt like she had nobody she could trust.

My heart shattered.

Luckily, this girl reached out to my daughter and one of her best male friends–two extremely empathetic and intelligent young people who knew to go to an adult with this information. She is okay, and is getting the support that will get her through this.

Except that we live in an (unfortunately) very white community. These bullies are in the middle school my daughter attended (she is in high school now). These bullies went through an entire anti-bullying campaign in the school last year, when my daughter was in 8th grade.Obviously, it didn’t take.

Or maybe they are simply following the examples provided to them by society.

This young girl is new to the area (having just started at the school in September). She should have been welcomed with open arms. She should not have to deal with bullying, or racism, or hate as she walks down the halls of her school. But she does.

Why? For a moment yesterday I wanted to run to that school and scream at those kids, but I know that isn’t the answer. It is not possible to fight hate, ignorance, and a lack of empathy with fighting.

I need to channel my anger in a different way.

Besides, I also realize that while these kids are responsible for their actions, it is not completely their fault.There is no single fault really, but rather fault lines that have developed over time, based on history, and widened because of the political landscape we currently live in. I believe we have reached a breaking point, and I have had enough.

Who do we blame for this breakdown of society? I’m sure somebody will say that it is the lack of God in the schools, but I call BS on that. I don’t know who the kids are who were bullying this girl. I don’t know their families. I don’t know if they are religious or not, but I do know this community. There are many churches in the area, and many families who go to church on a regular basis. So one can assume that many of the kids have some concept of God in their life.

So let’s not blame it on the lack of God.

Where can we turn?

This town is predominantly white.  While the 2016 election went to Hillary here, and we are in a very blue state, there are plenty of Trump supporters as well. One lives down the street from me, and I admit that I get supreme pleasure in encouraging my dog to do her business on their lawn. (I always clean it up, but giggle while I do it). After the election, many of the kids celebrated loudly. Needless to say, my daughter wasn’t one of them. Her best friend at the time was.

That friendship has slowly faded. They are still friends, but it isn’t quite the same.

Why?

Because it is difficult to be friends with people who are being taught to fear anyone who is different. Because it is difficult to be friends with people who refuse to see that the leader of our country is promoting hate, violence, and a love of money and guns over basic humanity.

Again and again I am told, though, that I am supposed to be understanding of the struggles of those on the other side of the issue. I am supposed to strive to understand the people who value guns over children’s lives, or who think that they must protect themselves from the government with weapons whose only purpose is to kill. I am supposed to empathize with the plight of people who feel threatened by difference–whether that difference is race, religion, gender, or something else.

Why am I asked to empathize and understand, when they are not?

I am one of the most empathetic people I know. I believe I try to understand all sides of issues before judging people. Except that I am now incapable of tolerating intolerance. I am not going to stand around and say it is okay for people to spout hate, to bully others, to endanger our children, to try to control women, to ignore sexual assault, to worship money over the environment, or anything else.

I am not going to watch a young girl destroy her own life because other people are being taught that it is okay to hate.

I have had enough.

The question is, what am I going to do?

While I dislike that the terminology I have to use at the moment come from war metaphors, it is all that I have.  I am going to combat this using the weapons I hold in my personal arsenal:

  • I will use the arts to promote empathy in the schools.
  • I will use my words to educate and inspire.
  • I will not be a bystander when I witness an offensive act.
  • I will fight ignorance with research and facts.

Change is coming, and I plan to help it using every creative tool possible.

How about you? Have you had enough?

 

 

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