Saturday, June 30, 2012
Secondly, I think about hate crimes that have recently occurred in the news... violation, exploitation, teasing and taunting to the point of distress. All so evil. I mean, what is wrong with these people, these "bullies"? Why are they so out-rightly wicked? How could anyone have the potential to be that sick and mean? Surely I would never... no... COULD never do anything so despicable. I mean, these sick people bully others until they decide it is better to just quit living. I could never do such a thing-treat someone so harshly.
... why is it that the moment you think you are above evil, something comes into your life that forces the realization upon you that you are far more capable of wickedness than you thought?
Tonight (technically last night considering it is past midnight), Travis and I watched this movie called To Save a Life. It centered around bullying and the harmful effects it can have on its victims- depression, cutting, and suicide. It got us discussing the matter. At first, Travis just mentioned something about how people don't really act that way toward others. I explained that in this day and age (what with the zombie apocalypse and all in the news), I believe anything could happen; the more I hear about bullying issues, the more I realize that true, deep hate still exists in our world- over petty issues, too!
This lead me into my discussion about how Travis and I have never really had to experience it because neither of us ever attended a public school where issues like bullying seem to be more prominent. Not to mention that our hobby, theatre, was filled with self-proclaimed freaks and geeks who were proud of that label- I mean, sheesh, Travis and I were just as proud to be called "theatre geeks" (and who wouldn't be?!). Theatre was a place of acceptance- weirdness and all.
This stopped my guilt-free train of thought. I realized it. I was a bully. Travis and I both were bullies. I guess theatre's "weirdness acceptance" had its limits, too. I remember how easily I hopped on the bandwagon of making fun of these two boys that were a little more than "unique". They were totally "out there" in behavior and style. One was our age, and I hate to admit this but... the other was much younger. Let's call the older guy Taylor and the younger kid Stanley. Now let's look at the facts:
1. True, we didn't physically harm these boys at all.
2. True, we mainly teased Taylor behind his back.
3. True, everyone was doing it.
Let's consider some corresponding facts:
1. Emotional harm can sometimes be more damaging than physical even.
2. He knew. Your sin will always find you out... and we didn't try particularly hard to hide it in the first place.
3. We left him all alone. Not one true advocate.
Again... some facts:
1. True, we didn't technically call Stanley "names"...
2. True, we tried to pass it off as funny to everyone involved- including Stanley.
1. The founder of this teasing started calling Stanley "Joe" for fun instead of using his real name- we practically took a running leap onto that bandwagon. He also called him some other names that were more targeting and hurtful to his face- we were high and mighty enough to only call him those names behind his back... high and mighty? I'm sorry, I think the word I was looking for was selfish and cowardly.
2. It wasn't funny. It wasn't funny to Stanley- we knew that deep inside. He would sometimes play along with the "Joe" thing... and other times he would just act mad. But what else was he supposed to do? We wouldn't stop... it was practically a legal name change against his will. You want to know the most depressing thing? When bringing up memories of "Joe"... we almost couldn't remember his real name.
We, Bible-believing, church-going, Jesus-loving teens, were bullies. Not only were we bullies, but we were also bullies that one would say to, "Pick on someone your own size!" At least that was the case with Stanley- he had to have been in middle school. Some role-models we were.
Let's revisit something from that sentence..."Bible-believing, church-going, Jesus-loving..." Jesus-loving. Amazing. Jesus was the most beat-up, bullied "kid" in the history of the world. Jesus was God's Son. Every person on this earth was created by God and is thus God's child. So then, just because we love Jesus and weren't alive during the time he was crucified, are we any better than the people who spit on Jesus, the Son of God, if we are "spitting" cruel, taunting words at other children of God in this day and age? No. We are just as evil. God doesn't weigh sin. Sin is sin. Without repentance and inviting Jesus into our hearts, the sin of gossip will just as well end us up in hell as will the sin of murder. And with bullying these days, those two sins go hand in hand in a sense.
We can only be eternally grateful for our salvation. But you know what is the worst part of all of this? Travis and I blew our witness with Taylor and Stanley... and truthfully with everyone observing our following the trend like sheep. Right now, we could be eternally grateful for Taylor and Stanley's salvation as well, but who knows if we will ever get the chance to witness to them again? I can only hope they are both alive and well. And if they are... I can only pray that another Christian will have the courage to stand against the stream... the boldness to take a step in the less selfish, less cowardly direction- the direction Jesus would and did take for others, yet many others were not willing to take for Him. I can only hope that that Christian will undo some of the damage these two fallible Christians did.
Finally, after coming to that realization, another one hit me. We are silent bullies even now. Though we may not be in the same situation with those two boys where we were pretty much outwardly making fun, is it that much better to talk behind others' backs? To the Lord it isn't. We have all heard that gossiping is a sin and that we shouldn't do it, and blah-dee-blah. However, did we ever really consider what it truly is? Silent bullying. Saying mean, hurtful things about someone, just not to their face. Bullying them in our minds. Just as a roving, lustful eye can eventually lead to the desire to actually commit adultery, so can mind-bullying eventually lead to a desire for open taunting and teasing. Plus, let's be honest, we may mean it to be silent when we gossip, but we all know how those private conversations can somehow manage to slip through the cracks and become the talk of the town. So how silent is silent bullying really meant to be?
This sent us into prayer. Repentance. A plead for strength to not remain in our state of depravity. A request to keep bullies away from T.J. A request to keep T.J. from bullying others. A request for someone to reach out to him if he ever does find himself being bullied. And a request for T.J. to be completely open with us as his parents so that we will know if he is ever being bullied in the future. I doubt Taylor and Stanley opened up to their parents about the situation at the theatre. We also discussed calling each other out on this "silent bullying". When we start to put someone down or make fun of them behind their back, we plan on keeping each other accountable and stopping this hidden hate.