Its Easy to Be Kind
I stand in the bank queue watching the screen as I await my turn. The news is on. The headlines are a story of a Nova Scotia teen, Rehtaeh Parsons—a young girl who has taken her own life. The energy drains from my body as I read the running commentary. Months earlier Rehtaeh was photographed while being sexually assaulted by a group of four boys. The photos were shared through email and social media. She was bullied and harassed as a result.
The CBC National headlines read: “Battle Against Bullying.” Sadness and shame overcome me. How can this still be happening? Why are things not changing? Not only has another young girl taken her own life, but we (society) are still attempting to tackle the problem with the same thinking that created it.
Why battle? Why against?
A surge of energy rises up inside. Anger, yes, but also a yearning, a call to action. How does it make sense to use violence to stop violence? How has it been working for us so far? Battling drugs, cancer, you name it, we fight it. ..full fisted fury and judgment….beat it into the ground, stomp on it; blow it to smithereens.
Why are we not getting this?
And then there is blame. We look around and point fingers at somebody, anybody, anything to make them responsible. Who failed? Who didn’t do what they were supposed to do? Who posted it on Facebook? Who didn’t investigate properly and who didn’t step in when they should have? All these questions, all this energy and time wasted in finger pointing. Well, guess what? We are ALL responsible. Yes, that is right….whether we take part in the violence, watch at the sidelines, pretend it isn’t happening; or are just afraid, lazy or shy to act. We are all responsible.
And what about the vigilantes—the haters of the haters who purport further violence to fix the guys who did this. In our righteousness do we kill the boys who raped her? Torture the ones who bullied her? And then what? Then there will be another group of us ready to take out the vigilantes. Do you see how outrageously crazy this is? This kind of thinking and acting is one big circle of violence that will never ever stop.
What is our role in this?
So where do you, I, all of us fit in? What role do you play? Are you moved by hatred? Or do you just feel powerless as you watch from the sidelines? Do you put the onus on somebody else to change things or do you really care either way?
We have to stop, right now, and look in the mirror. We all need to take a good hard look at ourselves. What behavior are we modeling to our youth? What are we watching on TV? What kind of jokes do we make? How do we talk about other people? What are each of us doing to change this madness?
Reflection is great but then action needs to follow. When you figure out where you stand, what are you going to do about it? Will you speak up when yours is the only voice? Will you rise up when everyone else stays sitting? Will you step in when fear and uncertainty call you back?
I invite you now, today, this minute, to commit to action. Join me in spreading a new message—one of hope, love and kindness. Let them be your guides. Have them advise your behaviour and counsel your thoughts. Let us stop this madness so other young girls and boys, desperate in their sadness, can find a reason to live another day.