I'm up at an ungodly hour on my day off because the puppy seems to have taken a step back in her training. She's had accidents for the two out of the past three nights, and I was determined we wouldn't have another one today. So far, so good. But my problem with being up so early is that my brain won't stop dwelling on problems or frustrations, and then I make the mistake of reading news on line. Politics has me depressed anyway (I don't care which side you're on--it's all depressing), and reading about the latest round of muckraking, stupidity, and selfishness only makes my mood worse. Politics aside, other topics haven't been much better.
But the story that thoroughly floored me was the one about the four suicides after bullying in Ohio. You think that couldn't happen at your school, in your neighborhood? What has happened to kids these days? How are they being raised? What makes them believe they have the right to pick on someone who is different or espouses different viewpoints? What happened to live and let live?
Yes, I am at a school where bullying takes place. As a teacher, I can tell you, it's hard to catch it in the act. I never have. Then again, I have a small number of students and don't know most of the student body. I'm isolated at school and I've always been a rather naive person. I can stand in the hallway during passing period, but most of the time, I have students who need or want my attention during those four minutes. But it makes me sick to realize that out there is a child who is afraid to go to school because of other children (monsters--the real kind). And then to see the parents who think their child can't do anything wrong... What have we turned into?
When I was in sixth grade, I was bullied. The child of immigrants, too tall and skinny for her age (Snort, skinny--not a problem these days), and one of the nerds, I was the target for a couple of kids in my class. We did square dancing every Friday. Since I wasn't popular, when squares were formed, I'd invariably never be picked for a square and be stuck with my bullies. As we'd promenade around the square, the ones left "at home" would kick me as I walked around. I reported it to the teacher, but she did nothing.
It ended the day they made fun of my Hungarian background. (Oh, Hungary? Hungry? Are you a hungry Hungarian?--trivial, right?) I whirled on them and told never to say anything that stupid again. They had no idea what my parents had gone through to get to this country. They didn't know what hunger was. My parents did. I told these sixth graders they were ignorant and spoiled and completely clueless about life.
I don't know why that particular taunt made me defend myself. Maybe because they were attacking two people I loved rather than me. They stopped bullying me after that and other kids in the class came up to me and told me how much they respected me after the incident. I'm glad I stood up for myself, but not everyone can. Especially if the abuse is physical and the victim isn't big enough/strong enough. And I also don't believe a physical response is necessarily the answer(But I'm not ruling it out).
Sometimes when I think about the major and minor problems in this world, I wonder why I bother with writing romance. It's frivolous and light. There are more important topics to tackle. And then I realize that my books talk about doing the right thing. About having to leave your comfort zone to stand up for good. And of course that love is the most important quality in life. I may not hit readers over the head with those topics, but they're there.
So go out and do the right thing. Spread some love. Let's do our little bit to make this world better. I don't think we can fix politics.
Books I'm reading now:
The Phoenix Transformed by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory.