Thursday, September 30, 2010

We are fragile

Leandra Witchwood
September 30, 2010

As I watched the video clip on my computer I was hoping it was something silly. Sadly, I knew her message was serious. I hit play crossed my fingers and listened. I watched her teary eyes as she sat in her talk show host chair on her brightly decorated set. Out of character, she was emotionally serious. Her usual humor was subdued, taken over by grief.

She spoke of a situation where boy that was announced as being gay over the internet. It is apparent that this was not the boy’s wish or desire to have his personal business announced so coldly. After the announcement this boy was bullied and eventually committed suicide. The news of this horrible tragedy struck me hard.

Some might say that the issue runs much deeper than bullying and personal business made public. Perhaps the boy had other issues prior to his public humiliation. I think this issue is as deep as any needed to be. Imagine your entire social umbrella coming to a complete collapse. Imagine people you once trusted turning on you, simply because you are who you are. Imagine as a teenager, an uncertain life becoming endlessly hopeless and miserable.

We forget as a culture how fragile we really are. We forget that what we say and do impacts others in a profound way. Somehow our society has decided that empathy and compassion are weaknesses, and in this we do a disservice to ourselves and our future generations. Maybe our ill tolerance comes from what we have been taught as a culture. When we are hurt we are told to, “Suck it up and be strong”. We are taught to choke back the tears as we are broken by the ill tolerance of others. Rarely are we encouraged and supported in standing up against ill tolerance and contempt.

Bullying has been a widely discussed issue lately as more and more kids lose their lives. What people do and say is important. Children are most vulnerable as they are learning to find their place in this crazy big world. When they are told they are inadequate, often enough, they eventually believe this to be true. Sadly, this mindset is hard to remove. It takes a lot of will and dedication to change this kind of programming. Once this mindset ingrained it will follow the child into adulthood. The adult will continue to believe they are not good enough, despite any wonderful things he/she may accomplish over the years.

Children who bully other children (as well as adults who bully other adults) learn this skill from others. One could speculate that abuse in the home is the culprit, or perhaps the said person learns the skill from the harshness of his/her environment minus any abuse. Maybe TV and Movies are to blame. I have also seen ill tolerance taught in churches. People who hold roles of authority need to remember that what they say and do is taken very seriously by those who believe in them.

If you watch children with their parents and family in a candid fashion you being to learn a lot about how having authority over another person helps dictate actions and beliefs. A parent who is aggressive and harsh is teaching his/her children to be aggressive and harsh. A religious leader who preaches hate and damnation toward others who are of different lifestyles and faiths is teaching his/her congregation to be hateful and ill tolerant.
How we act, think, and react to every situation, matters! The classic, “Do as I say and not as I do” speech does nothing to teach anyone right and wrong. In the example of children, they learn from example. Just as a toddler learns to throw a ball by watching someone else throw a ball, a child also learns how to behave by watching his/her parents or guardians behave. Changing the way children interact with one another begins with how we interact with one another. Relationships begin with words and common ground. What we do and say determines the relationships we forge.

Yes, we have the freedom to say whatever we like in a public venue, but at what cost? American’s are playing a large role in creating an epidemic of violence and hate. When we choose to say harsh things to others we are not only hurting that person/group but we also are hurting ourselves. When we allow this behavior to thrive we create a cycle that is relentless and unending. No one person or group deserves to be publically humiliated or disrespected.

The Gay and Lesbian debate has been only one hot topic in the area of bullying vs. tolerance. Religion is another area where tolerance is greatly needed. I am reminded of a recent the issue involving a church group in Florida. It is clear that the Pastor of this church was seeking publicity by planning a public burning the Quran, but he also sent another disturbing message. His public display revealed that many Americans are buying into the wrong ideals. The ideal that hate will solve the issue. As I look back on history I realize that hate really has not gotten us very far.

Someone once said to me, “Change your mind and you will change your life.” This phrase resonates more true now than ever. If we could change the way we interact and behave with one another we could change the world. If we chose to be polite instead of discourteous we could add value to every interaction. If we chose patience over rushing we would have the opportunity to experience life and those within our lives. Bad experiences are not avoidable, but if we chose to deal with them differently we can overcome their desperate trap created by fear and hate.

When you are faced with something that is different and it forces you out of your comfort zone, remember you have an enormous opportunity. It is within this moment of anxiety and uncertainty you have the ability to choose. In that moment, will you choose to become fear filled and reject the experience? Or will you choose to embrace your discomfort and learn more about the experience? The choice is always yours.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

It is almost Samhain Time...

Or Halloween Which ever you prefer

Now that Fall is at our heals, I have been swimming in inspiration. I am so happy that the weather is cooling off and I feel energized. I went through all my Halloween decorations (in the dusty dungeon also known as the basement) and I am ready to roll.

I am following my heart and I am creating a journal of my Halloween decorating shenanigans. From putting my GIANT spider web to my new creations... Cocoon sacks. Say it with me.. "Ooohhhhhhh". Not yet sure what I will do with this journal, but it could be handy someday to someone... somewhere.

Perhaps I will post snippets here on this blog for you to find your own inspiration.