It seems to be a running joke between myself and…most everyone talks to me that I use the phrase “I hate everyone” as a default comment throughout my days. I shouldn’t do it. Hate is a strong word that shouldn’t be tossed around, regardless of the fact that I’m not serious when I say it. I also don’t hate everyone. (I hate one person and it took me twenty years to conjure that emotion. A story that’s neither here nor there, really.)
I’m part of the problem.
No one likes to admit that, but there it is. When I write about suicide, I tend to talk about the language associated with it. My flippant comments are part of the problem, just on a different section of the spectrum.
However, certain things happen and make me wonder…do I really like everyone on a daily basis?
I have my doubts about humanity as a whole. You can’t turn around without hearing about the terrible economy, unemployment rates, joblessness and the myriad of problems that seem to be connected, usually in the form of varying crimes. Nothing in the media, or our observable human behavior, seems to indicate that we adhere to the “Love Thy Neighbor” theory, instead we’re allowing Hobbes to have a mild victory party in his grave.
This video went viral earlier this week. A group of middle school students bullied their elderly bus monitor – attacking her socioeconomic status and weight, accusing her of being a child rapist and advising her to go kill herself. (You all know me, we’ll revisit that another day.) This video seems to represent a myriad of things reflecting the state of humanity.
1. The Ugly
A cursory view of the video seems to indicate that this doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident. This doesn’t appear to be the first bullying instance that this children may have been involved in. An elderly woman trying to provide for herself was attacked for no apparent reason. Bullying itself is a psychological trauma. I’m sure the fact that these children advised her to “go kill herself” when her son had completed suicide ten years ago only added to this. (Dear Greek Life, and the rest of the world, this is the hidden harm referred to when Student Affairs professionals try to educate you about hazing. You don’t know everything about a person from the surface. Tread lightly.) Outraged people have now submitted death threats against the students and their families.
2. The Bad
The overarching questions seem to be “How?” and “Why?” Where did the students learn or obtain these insults and patterns of behavior? How does an individual come to the conclusion that posting a video of this nature (forgetting engaging in said behavior) is a good idea? There doesn’t seem to be a lot in the way of apologies or using this as an educational opportunity by the parents, families and school. (Yet. Admittedly, haven’t kept on top of this one.)
3. The Good
As of 3:00PM today, over $300,000 had been raised to send this woman on a vacation, or possibly retire. She indicated that she would likely donate the money.
It’s easy to focus on the Bad and the Ugly. There are numerous, and significant, problems there. But why can’t we focus on the good? Some college students donated the last remaining dollars in their bank accounts to this woman, knowing the harmful effect bullying can have. Why can’t we all have the same mentality of caring for one another, realizing the small actions can build into a larger concept.
Maybe it’s already happening. Maybe it’s just not widely acknowledged (a problem of its own – why do we focus on the negative?)
We can raise money for a bullied elderly woman. We can donate money to orphans in foreign countries. We can donate monthly to care for abused animals. We can see the rise of Kony 2012. Right now, families are having ice cream for dinner to celebrate a family’s dying wish for their child.
Why do we focus on the negative?
Why do we feel like we’re too small to make a difference?
I leave you all with this, what has now become my go-to “Makes You Feel Warm and Fuzzy and Like There’s Hope in the World” post.
And if we could keep it between us that I am capable of warm and fuzzy feelings, that would be great. Thanks.
Update: The bus monitor has now received free flights for herself and 9 others to Disney and a free Disney vacation.