Saturday, September 24, 2011

You've Got To Be Taught

I don't want to take on an entire campaign (and I can admit a year ago I even blogged with my own story of how it got better), but I can't help but wonder if we are sending the correct message to the youth who are being bullied and feel so alone. Think back to when you were that age. Life was not about the future. It was the here and now. Everything felt intense - no matter the size of the issue. If parents told you things would be better later, did you want to hear that or did you want the problem fixed then? 

I think it is great to remind youth that it will eventually get better down the road, but I really believe we need to be helping them in the present. How do they deal with those feelings of being different? Who can they talk to? What tools are there to cope with it? I applaud the groups taking on the bullies head on. That must be addressed. I agree with the organizations and states attempting to make laws against bullying (a hate crime). But if only we could get to these kids while they are in the depth of their despair and somehow encourage them to know they are special and wanted and loved. 

But does all of society feel that way?

I'm going to say - no. They don't. They want to be able to tell someone "you are wrong for being gay" - but that opposition turns into verbal abuse and for a child, it is very hard to take. These bullies are being taught to BE bullies. They hear the loud voices of people that scream about sin and disgust and take it to the next level of slurs and violence. 

The musical South Pacific had an amazing song that was so true when it was written so many decades ago: and yet still true today.

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Tell the children it will get better - but educate yourselves and them to learn now. See what groups are planning events near you and take your own children to hear the message. Garden State Equality presents a Week of Respect Kick-Off event on Saturday, October 1 from 11-1:00 at John H. Walker Middle School in Nutley, NJ. Call 973-509-5428 for more information.

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