ROCK. PAPER. SCISSORS. – Be Together. Not the same.
1983 was a very transitional time for me, as I was about to enter my first year in middle school as a 6th grader and McDonald’s had just introduced the chicken McNugget. Yeah, you know those nuggets changed your life too, admit it. Swatch also released their first watch that year, which I would later overdose on and wear way too many at a time on both arms, but that’s for another 80s story. One story that always comes to mind though as a new middle schooler is one of my first real experiences with a bully. I remember him clearly, yet I always forget his name. What’s funny is that it made no sense why this guy was bullying me and several others, because he was short and to this day is probably the size of Mr. Danny Devito the lovable little actor. One would think that HE would be the victim of bullying because of his awkward size and I only use the word “awkward” because at that time he was obviously very different from most kids. He wasn’t technically a dwarf or little person, but was small, stocky, strong, and definitely menacing to me. For reasons unknown to this day he chose me as a target and would constantly pick at me. I don’t recall ever having to give him my lunch money but he put a fear in me that eventually led me to share with my older brother, someone who didn’t play around and wasn’t going to allow anyone to mess with me.
My brother is about 4 years older than me and the early 80s were the beginning of many many tough years for him. A year earlier our dad had died from Cancer so all we had was each other and even as he struggled with his own issues and even though we had brotherly fights ourselves, he was going to do his best to watch over and protect me as needed. The next day after receiving this news about the bully, he met up with me on the side of the school where I would normally run into this little bully and sure enough he could be seen walking down the sidewalk towards the school gate exit. He saw me and as he and his friends approached and got closer my brother stepped in front of me and confronted him. My brother drilled him about his bullying and Mr. Bully was clearly concerned and worried and without any warning or notice, my brother punched him right in the forehead. This surprised everyone that was surrounding us and within seconds the guy’s forehead swelled up like a baseball. My brother calmly asked him to leave me alone and from that day forward me and the bully became friends, which lasted all the way through high school. Turns out he wasn’t so menacing after all and was actually a very nice person. He just needed a little guidance and punch in the forehead.
I bring up this story because here I am, 44 yrs old, and I thought that bullying and situations like this were reserved for the school yard, yet I see more of this behavior by adults everyday on social media and yes, even in person. You would think that with age we would mature and handle things differently but I feel like social media has created a world where humans are finding it a lot easier to bully, bash, attack, and beat up on each other with words and images. More than ever I’ve seen this bad behavior as we approach an election and I’ve seen sides of people that I never thought existed, all in the name of politics. People are getting angry and wanting to poke people’s eyes out because of differing opinions and views. Speak against the opposing candidate or appear to be supporting another and you run the risk of being eaten alive or have your limbs torn off. It’s very sad and it shouldn’t be this way, but it is and all I can do is acknowledge it and ask those in my circle and my readers to do something different and be different.
The video below is one that I saw this past year during the Oscars and I have to give props to the agency that created this, because they delivered a message of unity better than I’ve ever seen. Every one of us is different in many ways yet we are all very much the same. We all have hands, feet, eyes, a brain (some bigger than others), we have beating hearts and that heart pumps the same blood throughout our veins. We’re going to have differing opinions and politics, we’re going to like different music, and we’re going to see the world differently, but please don’t allow those differences to cause ugliness or hate. Don’t allow those differences to attack your brother or sister and hurt one another. We’re bigger than that and we may have had an excuse for this behavior as kids but we definitely have no excuses as adults. Learn from one another and accept each other’s differences.
So whether you’re a rock, a wrinkly piece of paper, or those little tiny scissors that they give you in elementary school that don’t cut worth a damn, be nice to one another, love each other, and encourage those around you to do the same.
With lots of love.