I read some posts recently by victims of bullying. I cried as their stories rang notes of familiarity and I cried when I thought about times when I could have been more kind to people.
I don’t think that I ever bullied anyone, but I know that there were people I didn’t treat like the whole, amazing people they were and are, and that hurts. I’m ashamed to have possibly hurt someone, even in the smallest of ways. What hurts most though, is the thought that people are the ones inflicting this pain on one another. People who have feelings and minds of their own, people who should know best how it can hurt and damage one’s sense of self and worth.
It’s often said that “kids can be cruel”, and perhaps that is true, but children aren’t naturally that way. Children are mimics. They do as we do and we need to always remember that our actions will be repeated, and often amplified by those young minds that are trying to find their way.
While we might say something in private, children don’t make that distinction on their own. They carry the hurtful words they hear to playgrounds and classrooms, where they assault people as innocent and fragile as they are. People consider children strong and resilient. I think with something like bullying, children adapt. Adapting isn’t the same as bouncing back.
It’s not just making fun of people that is hurtful. It’s also in the way we react to life’s obstacles. How about when someone cuts you off in a parking lot or jumps in front of you in line. It’s perfectly acceptable to be upset with this behavior, but what comes from our mouths should be appropriate to the circumstance. Shouting profanities or giving dirty looks might seem like a good way to let off the steam, but does it ever yield anything positive? I think we can all agree that the answer is “No.”
No one deserves to be pushed down and beaten, physically or emotionally. We are all different and amazing in our own ways. It can be hard to understand why someone is different from us, and too often it seems that teasing or making fun of them is the easier way to deal with the work of finding out. Imagine though, more people taking the time to care to know. Imagine how rewarding that could be for all involved. Communities where we help each other up by acknowledging the good in them, and dismissing the misunderstood.
I’m not saying every person is amazing. We obviously have criminals and people that do simply horrible things, but I do believe that more often than not, people who grow to adulthood making dangerous decisions are very hurt and damaged people underneath. They are guarded and they didn’t get that way by being loved, accepted and supported.
In 2012, I implore you to move forward with a new view of those you do not know, and of those you do. Take time to do something that will make them smile. It could be simply holding a door, or helping to pick up something dropped. You could say hello, or flash a smile – simply offering a sign that says “You are worth my time.” I can promise you that you will send people off with a lift in their day and you will feel that reward as well.
Want to do more? Visit RandomActsOfKindness.org‘s ideas page for inspiration. Do you have an idea? Share it below and if I get enough submissions I will put together an idea post for all to share.