Saturday, December 17, 2011

Re: Bullying : I Am Not a P#$$Y - this video contains mild swear words.

Cloning Juliet

Romeo's girlfriend is here with us this week.  Naturally, we will call her Juliet.  Juliet and I were discussing DJ's social issues at school.  I was explaining that this group of kids, who formerly adored JD, now basically ignore DJ.  In her impressively deep wisdom and empathy, especially in light of her very young years, she remarked, "Indifference is so much worse than anything else."

Don't get me wrong-I am thankful that no one has attempted to physically harm DJ because I know that happens to LGBTQ folks ALL  THE  TIME.  But this shunning is psychological warfare.

If I were a person who was merely disliked and that dislike came in the form of dirty looks in the hallway, kids whispering to each other as I walked past, that would be horrific to endure every single day.  However, when I sit in the same classroom with six kids, roughly one third of the classroom, who ignore me completely-they make no eye contact with me, they pretend to not see me when they divide into pairs to work on projects (I can't believe teachers still let students break into groups independently) even when I'm standing alone in the classroom while the pairs of students begin their work- THIS is the same as saying I don't exist.  My presence is SO unimportant to them, that in their view, I am simply not present.  I AM NOT THERE, in their view.

Believe me, I want to give these kids a break because I've known them since they were little kids too.  I want to acknowledge what a difficult process for them this must be, etc., etc., yet, in the end, naturally, my empathy rests with my daughter.

No wonder so many LGBTQ kids end up depressed, anxious, engage in cutting, or attempt to control their lives in unhealthy ways.  They just want to be able to call the shots in their own freaking lives, for heaven's sake.

What do we know about bullying?  Not much since it's still fairly prevalent.  But we're learning.  How many decades did we secretly harbor disgust at the victim of bullying because that person appeared weak, or obtuse, odd, antisocial, or like they just didn't fit in with any particular group?  It's the classic "Which came first, the chicken or the egg" scenario.  Was the object of bullying so very different that they seemed to invite the bullying?  Or more likely, did that person shrink in the face of bullying that came in the form of harassment, physical violence, verbal abuse, cyber bullying (the most cowardly form of bullying since the bullies are such pansies that they can't even face their victims) or shunning?

Every single one of us knows that if we put our hand in a fire we will get burned which is why we don't do it.  We avoid direct contact with fire.  We come up with elaborate ways to control fire, we make plans in the event we can't control fire.  We practically create an anti-fire culture to help us deal with the dangers of fire.  This is what happens to people who are systematically denied entry into the social fabric of their world.  They must come up with the means to avoid that very entity that has hurt them in the past, and continues to hurt them in the present, in spite of the fact that they must face that entity on a daily basis.

Now, if any one of us became so paralyzed with fear of getting burned that we couldn't even approach a candle to blow it out, the rest of us would likely look on that person with ridicule.  "Oh for God's sake, it's just a freaking candle. It's not going to hurt you!"  But what if you found out that the person who is so frightened and dreads the candle so terribly was burned horrifically in the past?  We would understand the fear completely and if we were nice people, we would assist them in both avoiding the flame when possible, and coming to grips with facing the flame when necessary.

Victims of bullying, of shunning, can become avoid-ant which can give the appearance of being overly shy, overly fearful, backward or anti-social when in fact they are trying to survive painful circumstances in the same manner that any one of us would, were we in their shoes. So let's stop blaming the "victim" or better yet, let's call these folks the survivors, of bullying, by pretending they asked for it by being different.  They aren't being different, they are being themselves.  It's the rest of us who are so busy coming up with labels for everyone who is not like us who are the problem.  We are not supposed to be identical copies, or clones, of each other.  And thank goodness for that.

Juliet understands the importance of not judging someone until you've walked in that person's shoes.  I do wish, however, that we could clone her.