Stop It.


Everyone knows that October is national breast cancer awareness month, but did you know that October is also national bullying prevention month? It sure is! And although this blog is very intentionally meant to be far from the political, this is a blog about pretty things, and being kind is pretty and being a bully is not. Plus, it's my blog and I'll do what I want. So, read on if you wish. It's long and I sort of rant a little. Just a little.

You see, the thing is, ever since I had my son I worry. I worry about his health, I worry about his sleep, I worry about if he knows he is loved. The other day I even caught myself even worrying about the air he was breathing in and out. {That my friends, is a helicopter mom if I have ever seen one. Heaven help him.} But one of the things I worry about most is the kind of world that he was born into. There are mean people out there who forget that everyone around them are trying to do the best they can just like they are, but instead of choosing to help, they feel entitled to hurt others. And, it's not just kids that are bullies, because bullying is learned, and learned from adults. Parents. Moms and Dads. And, bullying doesn't just mean the jerk portrayed on Saved By the Bell who pushed Screech into lockers, it is anyone who is purposefully mean or critical to another person with the intent to hurt them.

There is a moment in my life that I think about every time I sit in a church meeting about forgiveness. I don't know why I have continued to let it fester now for over 5 years, but it has hung on inside of me very tightly and I haven't let go of it. It was the day my husband and I were taking engagement pictures. It was a summer night and we were at a large outdoor mall with a large fountain where people were sitting and playing. My husband and I were innocently kissing and posing for the camera, when a large man came up to us yelling about how disgusting we were. People started to gather around us, staring in disbelief as he yelled at us for a few seconds, words that I can't even remember. However, the one thing I remember perfectly was said just before he walked away. It was when he looked at me right in my face and yelled, "You should be ashamed of yourself. I hope you're not getting married in the temple."

To you this might seem like just a crazy man ranting, something I should have gotten over years ago. And you are probably right. However, the "temple" he is referring to is a Latter-Day Saint temple. A place that those of the LDS faith deem as the most sacred places on earth. Ever since I was a little girl, I worked to make choices every day that would make me worthy to be married there. I never smoked, never drank, I wore modest clothing, I worked to be clean morally, choosing not to have sex before marriage. I worked to maintain the standards the church and I had set for myself, to be pure and faithful and worthy to enter that temple. And in that split second, that man who knew nothing about me felt that he knew enough to yell at me and tell me I didn't belong there. In fact, he HOPED I wouldn't be going there.

One of the worst parts about this scenario is that this man was probably a member of my same church. A church that teaches nothing but tolerance and love. The kind of love that our Savior, Jesus Christ, showed to others. He was one of MY people. He should have been on my side, but instead, he told me I didn't belong there, in his temple.

I have been greatly blessed in life to have been surrounded by wonderful people. This is the closest incident I can recall to being involved in a significant bully-like scenario. But the fact that it hasn't left me gives urgency to the idea that those who are bullied in small or large ways internalize it. It doesn't leave them. So, it starts with adults. With thinking about what we say to another person before we say it. With choosing to only treat others with kindness.

The other day I was standing in line at the main post office here is State College and a darling girl of Asian decent walked up to the counter with some post cards that had been returned because the stamp was on the wrong side. All the postal worker had to do was tell her to change them to the other side. Instead, he proceeded to chide her, telling her that she had "screwed up" and that "this is America" and the stamps go on the other other side "here in America." I, along with a handful of others stood in the line watching him belittle her even though he knew nothing about her. I wish all the time that I had stood up for her. I think about that moment a lot, and what I should have done to help this girl defend herself against a thoughtless bully, but I can't do anything. It's over. Now the only thing I can do is tell myself that I will never let that happen again. Because adults who bully teach children that bullying is acceptable, and I never want my little, tiny son to think it is okay to treat others with anything but respect and love regardless of how they look, where they come from, or even how they behave. We have to be kind. If we are, then our children will know that the only way to treat others is with kindness.

Now, you HAVE to watch this video posted yesterday of the way this kick-A news anchor chose to deal with her bully. We should all check ourselves and make sure we aren't engaging in the same kind of behavior as this news anchor's bully. I also recommend reading the inspired words of Elder Dieter Uchtdorf on the subject. Then, after you watch/read, I hope you'll commit to working to remove any kind of bullying thoughts from your brain.

Just get rid of them. I'm working on it, too.