This entry will be a teeny bit different than my last one and unfortuntely, a bit raw and rantish but here we go again! Another tragic teen suicide attributed to bullying. I really tried to ignore this and not blog about it but as you may know, the not so squeaky wheel needs some grease too. We all have an opinion, especially on this one but being 52 years old may suggest I am out of touch but please remember that growing up without arms in the 60’s meant zero political correctness and 100% struggle for identity so as old as I am, this is nothing new and repeating the chorus over and over and over again is doing nothing but fuel the fire that so many bleeding hearts love to bake their marshmallows on. Honestly, it almost seems like the news rooms secretly cheer when this kind of thing happens (I know they don’t) as they all sing from the same songbook that is intended to make all of us feel responsible for one struggling teen’s personal choice brought about by many complicated issues, one of them being bullying.
Let us be very clear…tragedy in one’s life isn’t a Jerrry Springer show where the drama is staged for ratings. It is never okay for a person to have to struggle for equality or be marginalized by those who would exercise their power to demean or worse, cause deep pain. I have felt that emotion and again, I would not want to live it again. “Life isn’t fair!” seems to be the chant as if saying it enough times will make it so automatically. I am going to be blunt: I overcame the bullies with one principle; they can’t be fixed… but I can!
Anyone who actually knew me as a teen knows I was a world-class dweeb. My parents did their best but we were poor so I couldn’t “Nike, Polo and Gucci” my way to acceptance. Mom and Dad were in their 70’s when I was an adolescent so the last time they had a teen in the house was in late 1940’s…a tad different time! They struggled with my mental health, and so did I. Let’s use one simple example. I asked girls to dance at school sock hops, they said no so all girls hated me! Right? Wrong. Several girls would have danced with me but I wanted the popular girls so instead of recognizing I was wrong, I blamed all females and was convinced I would never dance, date or marry for the rest of my life. I have been married to my beautiful Darlene for almost 20 years but we met when we were over thirty!!!! Life Is Not Adolescence!!!! It can be unfair, confusing, depressing and downright impossible to navigate…that is precisely the point. People do not change without growth and growth is impossible without challenge and therein lies the ironic argument.
I have heard this so many times I want to throw up; “My parents were tough on me and I didn’t like it so I am going to let my children be kids. They won’t have any stress so their lives can develop without interruption or deviation from the goal of being the greatest child any parent has ever had. Maybe if I play my cards right, I’ll get a trophy for Parent of the Year. I can put it right on the mantle with all my other aquisitions that prove I am better than anyome aiive!!!” Okay, maybe I haven’t heard those exact words but boy, sure feels like it!
Kids aren’t stuff!! Also, kids do not grow into succesful adults without a few obstacles. Is it just me or isn’t one of the greatest parts of being human is when we accomplish something through our own hard work and dedication? People flatter me with my success all the time but do they really know how hard it was sometimes? C’mon. Imagine a life without arms! It’s okay, I will give you a minute. Pretty hard to actually get, huh? So when I tell people it was hard but worth the struggle, is that just a planned inspirational phrase? Not in my mind.
The solution to bullying does not exist and it never will. Legislation will do absolutely nothing and kudos to Calgary Police Chief, Rick Hansen, who during an interview regarding the alleged suicide of a Vancouver teen this week (Amanda Todd) stressed we already have laws to address bullying and more laws will do nothing but make bullying more adversarial than it already is. His “professional” opinion is simple; all the stakeholders need to dialogue more and blame less.
Ironically, it seems to me that people are more concerned about who is right rather than admitting nobody is; not even me. But if we dump the egos, tone down the rhetoric and attempt rational debate, perhaps we can give our youth the direction they sorely lack and thirst for every day.
Let us also remember that the clear majority of young people are awesome…I meet them every day in schools all across North America. Most of them don’t bully and most of them think all the drama is way over top. But most is not all and every now and then, we have a rare tragedy that reminds us all that life, let alone young life, is fragile and frought with obstacles but as the well-used expression turned website rightfully says; “It Gets Better”. Life does get better but it doesn’t just show up. Isn’t it time we start teaching kids that being happy isn’t a right, it is a destination that is within the limits of our imagination and doesn’t cost a cent. It is, however, very hard to earn. And like so many human pursuits, worth it…totally worth it!