Imagine There’s No Heaven

stop bullying

Bartow, a sleepy little bedroom community nestled up close to Lakeland, Florida. Bartow, population 17,501. No wait. That would be 17,500 because last week while I was making the momentous decision between choosing Chinese food or Mexican for dinner, Rebecca Sedwick of Bartow was making the decision to continue to undergo the year-long bullying she had endured, or to just give up, give in, and end it all peacefully. Rebecca was 12 years old. Twelve. I think at twelve I still dreamed of one day marrying a prince and living happily ever after. This is not her family’s grief; this is the nations, the entire world’s grief. We have all lost out on a future, a contributor to society, a child, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a spouse, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, the person who would one day grow to cure cancer, shelter battered women, or to just live peacefully among us, a citizen. How do we even know what Rebecca could have potentially given to society? I was too busy choosing between Chinese food and Mexican to find out. What were you doing?

Fifteen girls. That’s the number of girls it takes to bully a twelve year old victim enough that death is more attractive than life. Fifteen to one. ( ) Taunting her with messages like “Go kill yourself” and “Why are you still alive?” Rebecca wasn’t a suicidal child with an uncaring parent; look in the faces of your children, because any one of them could be Rebecca. Rebecca’s mother did the correct steps, she reported and removed her daughter from the school and monitored her access to social media. The fifteen girls? They decided to continue stalking her using social media platforms. Who are these mean girls, and who parents them anyway? Who would allow their children’s cruel behavior to go unpunished? I mean, I’m not a rocket scientist, heck, I’m not even a parent, but I was parented once. And if I was a participant in bullying, it wouldn’t be the victims’ access to social media that would be monitored, it would be mine. My laptop, cell, PC, [insert any other digitally connected to internet interface here] would be gone.

This isn’t a parent’s problem, it’s now society’s problem. In our society there is a big disconnect between these bully’s and any sort of ethical morality. Morality isn’t just some grandiose religious aspiration only religious people should strive for; morality is a code of ethical behavior, a characteristic of quality that we should all adhere to for the good of society as a whole. And it all comes down to accountability. At this point, it’s our problem since we didn’t make the parents accountable, and certainly not the children. Gasp! Heaven forbid we make a child accountable for their own poor choices, we certainly blow smoke up the wazoo for every little wonderful thing they do. Think about it, how many bumper-stickers have you seen that say “My child is on the honor roll at…” Do you think the same parent would give equal bumper space to expound the fact that their princess and fourteen friends have been taunting a child to suicide for over a year? Probably not, because it seems lately we’ve become a nation of pushers. Let’s push away, glaze over the bad our children are doing because telling them what an arse they are being may harm their fragile psyche. Remember, I am raising them to be an “Us,” not a “them.” ( ) Well parent of the bully? Trust me, their psyche? It’s beyond harm and it’s almost to the apex where you can’t cure crazy, so if you’re not going to legitimately punish them? For the sake of society at large, please find someone who will. Let society punish them, because at this point, it’s our problem. Your kid is killing our kids.

Take from? Yeah. I’m sorry this is so lengthy. I’m sorry I felt compelled to linger here on this topic. Again. But I can’t help it, I am angry, I am heartbroken, and it’s part of my genetic code to get fed up with cancer, spouse abuse, and bullying. Unfortunately, I think all this time I’ve been going after the wrong participant in the bullying. Instead of surrounding the bully, perhaps we need to be surrounding the victim. It’s actually logical if you think about it. I’d rather help the victim than the bully, wouldn’t you? That guy, (or 15 girls) they obviously can fend for themselves, they have quite the track record. Bully for them! The ultimate solution, society’s solution, aside from removing the bully’s exposure to the victim, perhaps more importantly it’s our role to nurture these victims self-esteem. Isn’t the bully usually saying the victim lacks some viable trait? Isn’t the victim “too fat,” “too thin,” “too dumb,” “a slut,” “[insert any possible humiliating adjective here]”? Wouldn’t this eventually wear on the victim, at some point wouldn’t they begin to believe “I deserve all this because I am not good enough?” Instead of harboring resentment of the bully, focusing on their bad behavior, perhaps the change we need to instill is to strengthen the core of the victim, to offer emotional and psychological support. We keep pointing at the bullys, let’s start pointing at the victims, raise their awareness of their good redeeming qualities. There is some underlying quality within that makes one victim a bully survivor and the next fail, and that quality is realization. Realizing you are your own best friend, it’s alright to love yourself unconditionally. If we all help one, just one bully victim realize this about themselves, perhaps then, finally, we can stop bullying in its tracks. But, well, that’s my take on it, ponder it for what its worth to you.

5 thoughts on “Imagine There’s No Heaven

  1. Once again, Lil Cao, I’m struck by how large-hearted you are. Over the years, I’ve desensitized to pain. It’s like an emotional version of what statisticians call the Law of Large Numbers: six billion plus people in the worlds, countless interactions and relationships, so it is inevitable that a certain number of people are like Rebecca, tortured by bad interactions that they feel it’s simpler to give up than continue. If I don’t know them, it is easy to shove them in that corner of my mind with Lindsay Lohan, the price of soy futures, microbiology, and other things I just don’t think about. The alternative is to ache and feel bad over something I have very little influence over, to both feel Rebecca’s pain (empathy) and to feel powerless and minimized over my impotence to change any thing. Who wants that?
    You let yourself in for a lot of pain by feeling the pain for others, and yet you also do something noble with that pain. You shine a light on a dark depressing subject that needs to be resolved and improved. You remind us that random strangers don’t deserve to be cast in a corner with Lindsay Lohan just because they don’t know me, that we need to let the pain inspire some outrage so that we get off our backsides and act, and that there is a key difference between ‘very little influence’ and ‘no influence’ and that we should be willing to use all the influence we have, be it great or small, to make the world a better place. You may sometimes feel blogging is a thankless task, that you are voice alone in the wilderness, so let me say to you, “Thank you, Lil Cao, for having the heart to feel and the courage to speak up.”

    1. thank you! That’s all I want. Outrage. One person to be outraged enough to help one person. If we all help one person, that is enough. You brought me to tears Emily, but in a good way. ❤

  2. Sadly, a lot of victims do have someone or several people supporting them, but they still are beaten down by the bullying. Yes, help the victims, but hold the bullies responsible. It pains me to think that parents of bullies do nothing to stop their offspring from continuing these horrible acts.

    A close friend of mine had a call from his son’s school not long ago letting him know his son had made a threat against another boy. He stepped in, disciplined his child and is working closely with the school to monitor his son’s behaviour. I don’t believe his son will do such a thing again. But he has a parent who is invested in his son’s life – and recognises that he is not a perfect child (there is no such thing) and needs guidance to grow into a responsible, caring human being. Too many people turn a blind eye to their children’s bad behaviour, whether out of a belief that their child can do no wrong or just sheer bad parenting. Or laziness. Yes, hold the parents accountable when these things happen, but make sure the bully is punished – and I don’t believe that knowing they may have contributed to someone’s death is punishment enough. All too often the bullies are the ones crying crocodile tears at the funeral, milking the death for sympathy and attention. This is a criminal act and it needs to be dealt with as if they had pulled the trigger, tightened the noose or forced the victim to swallow the pills.

    Thank you, once again, Cao, for speaking out instead of just shaking your head and letting this pass.

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