Tag Archive: tolerance


Ending War

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have wounded me.

But I can see

my wounding

is from

your own pain.

I refuse

to allow

this relay race

of passing

this baton of hurt

to continue

for even

one more lap.

I will keep

this baton.

I will return to you

loving kindness

and

forgiveness.

And

I will not

concern myself

over

whether you

“get it.”

I

will leave that

between

you

and

God.

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Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first c...

Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first class day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lynda Frederick did not forget the bullying that happened to her 25 years ago in High School, so when her high school reunion group created a Facebook page to announce it, she used the opportunity to share with all her classmates how they treated her.

Lynda posted a poem on her Orange Glen High School class Facebook page. On it she wrote:

The little girl who had to walk to school while others rode the bus
Instead of asking why… you picked on her
The little girl who had bruises and was dirty
Instead of asking why … you picked on her

After this was posted, she didn’t expect the reaction from her former classmates. Some were brought to tears and then they created a scholarship fund in her name and raised $800 to fly her back to California for the reunion.

“I got an outpour of calls and messages, people stepping forward that I don’t even remember that said ‘I know I was one of those that picked on you and I’m so sorry,’” Lynda Frederick said Friday. “It was overwhelming.”

Lynda explained how during her time at school the other children would throw rocks and things at her and would spit on her. Frederick graduated from school early and then moved to New York and had three children, but the days being bullied in high school never left her.

Former classmate Shawn Gordon, of Escondido, said he got tears in his eyes when he thanked her for the anti-bullying message and showed it to his teenage daughters.

His memories included a time when he saw Frederick being bullied.

“One bully tried to keep tripping her,” he said. “I could have said something; never did.”

Lynda Frederick has now been able to connect again and find forgiveness from those children who have now grown up to be adults. ”We can’t fix yesterday but we can try to fix today,” Frederick said. “That’s my new motto.”

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You can find the link for the blog where I found this post below:

http://bullyinglte.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/bully-victims-facebook-poem-moves-her-classmates-25-years-later/

   

This is a rather long article and I am posting it without my usual insertion of photos and illustrations.  I am reposting it exactly the way it was originally done.  It is well worth the investment of time it takes to read it.  This article is a real eye-opener and I hope you feel that way too.

I was honored to be asked to deliver a sermon (really a speech) with a theme of bullying during services at my place of worship recently. I thought I would share the speech that I gave with you. It’s a bit lengthy, but I thought the subject matter appropriate to share… (~Alan Eisenberg)


The bible reading this week is AHAREI MOT, which in Hebrew means AFTER THE DEATH. This is because it takes place right after the Death of Moses’s brother Aaron’s two sons. The reading is also maybe even more significant, because it is also the origin of the YOM KIPPUR ritual.

Interestingly and possibly even intentionally, this reading takes place about 6 months after and equally six months prior to our YOM KIPPUR. It’s as if to say that we should remember that making atonement is not just a once a year event. It has always been a challenge for me to understand the idea of the once a year atonement. I know that some of us believe we have the other 364 days to build up our mistakes so that once a year we can ask for forgiveness, and then even then, we only ask it of god. While in other religions, they go weekly to confess their sins and ask for atonement, but again, only to god. Why to god, as if he is going to tell the people who most need to hear it.

Why do we struggle to say the words ANI MITZTA’ER … Hebrew for I’m sorry! Why is this so hard for us to do? And what does it mean to others when you say it to them, sincerely, and meaningfully.

David Brin, an American science fiction author, has one of my favorite quotes on the subject. He said: Why must conversions always come so late? Why do people always apologize to corpses?” The author Harriet Beech Stowe said it as well when she said “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone.”

 How often I have seen this as the truth. How many of us regret the moments we didn’t say I’m sorry. I was 21 when my grandmother died. She had lived within driving distance of us my whole life. I had spent summers with her and shared many special moments during my childhood. When I was 21, I was in college and she and I had drifted apart.  For many reasons not spoken here, we had argued recently and I didn’t apologize. And then she was gone and I could no longer tell her what I wanted to.

ZAY MOYKHL! That’s Yiddish for I’m sorry and a language she spoke often to me. Unfortunately it was typically to tell me that I was MESHUGEH (crazy). Being a fan of movies, I often quote them sometimes to the pleasure or dismay of others. I find comfort in the lines from movies, because they help me to understand that others go through what we all do. When it comes to this idea of waiting to say you are sorry, I drift to an unlikely movie, “The Sixth Sense”, which is mistaken as a scary movie, when it is really about discovering a power to help others and do good. And no, it’s not that the guy is dead at the end. And if I just ruined that for you, you should have seen the movie 10 years ago anyway. At the end of the movie; the boy who has the power to talk to the dead tells his mother that his grandmother, his mother’s mother who had passed away years ago, has been talking to him. The boy’s mother and his grandmother had a falling out years before and the mother was suffering with guilt from it. He tells his mother that the grandmother wanted to tell her something. It was an answer to a question the mother asked every time she visited her grave that went unanswered. The answer from the grandmother was“EVERY DAY”. The boy asks his mother what question she asked when she visited the grandma’s grave. His mother says the question is “DO I MAKE HER PROUD?” At that moment in the movie, the mother is able to release the pain she had carried with her all those years.

But in life, we don’t get to talk to the dead and they don’t get to answer us. It is ironic that this is the week I have been invited to deliver this D’Vor Torah, because I contemplate this question often when I speak to groups about bullying. Since 2007 I have chosen to take on the cause of helping others cope with the pain and suffering they feel from being bullied. I speak to groups and have a website of stories and information to try to help others. I started this to help myself, because I too had been a victim of bullying as a child and knew the long-term suffering this was bringing to others. I realized that the theme I would share when I spoke was one of trying to teach and promote empathy and find forgiveness. Because it is in heart and head that we carry the burden of the pain of cruelty and also the guilt of what we did. I had no idea in 2007 how this decision would change my life.

I decided my first action would be to write down all of the stories I remembered from those years of bullying. I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts in the 1970s and this is where it all took place. This is important later. I wrote my stories onto a website. I did it just for me to release these things from me and put them to rest. But it would not be so easy. A few years later, I was invited to speak about my stories. This was also very difficult and the pain of those memories would come back to me. You see, I believe we never really forget the wrongs done to us, we just store them in the back of our minds and put them in a deep place. But they build over time and without the apology, without someone making amends, I believe they make us a harder person. But over the last five years, it seems many have found my site and find hope in the words posted there. What I never expected was that those people I knew in Lexington would find my stories as well and that I would have to confront these words. . .I’m sorry.

The first person to find his story was actually my best friend from those years. I knew he had found them, because he started replying to other posts with his memory. But he hadn’t found his story. You see he had hurt me as well. One Halloween, he and my other friends had taunted me from the woods and ran off, leaving me to walk home alone, no candy in my bag. Looking back as an adult, it doesn’t seem that bad. But our memories are from the age that things happen. He read his story and then I received his note directly to me…30 years later.

He wrote: “For what it’s worth, and what I recall of that night, it was just kids being kids… I think we were all just being goofy with the mischief of the night, being Halloween and all…and I will say I am sorry if your feelings were hurt.”For those young people in the audience, can you imagine getting a note from your friend 30 years later apologizing? I couldn’t and was embarrassed I had put him in that position. But you know what, I felt a little better. I called him and we talked for hours after that. We still do today. A little repair.  Pra-stEE-te…That’s Russian for I’m Sorry.

I had hoped that would be the last. I never really expected anyone to read my site anyway. Who am I? Just someone trying to work his way through life. I then was looking through my old Bar Mitzvah book one day and saw that there was a boy in it from Lexington who I couldn’t recall our times together. I knew his name, but not the times we spent together. He found me through Facebook one day and wrote to me recounting all the good times we had. He particularly reminded me of the time we blew up our toys with firecrackers. Don’t tell anyone I did that though. He wrote: I must say that you moving away was one of the saddest events to me. We became such good buddies so fast. I have an unbelievable amount of memories hanging out together, doing sleepovers, and just being generally mischievous…

It bothered me not to remember him, his memories were so vivid of me. Then I discovered why. In his second note his explanation told me when he wrote:

I remember being incredibly sad when you moved away. I got over it of course, but there’s always been something about it in the back of my mind that’s bothered me. Specifically, what happened at the end of 7th grade when we had a fist fight at school. As far as fistfights went, it wasn’t unusual. Even for friends, because usually they can move on and endure that kind of stuff. But what’s bothered me since then (and I was just thinking about it only a couple of weeks ago before you contacted me) was how that injured our friendship, and then you moved away before we could really set it completely right. That was a mean day for me, and one which I really wish I could have back.

And since a window of opportunity doesn’t always open for long, I have to use our reconnection to tell you now how incredibly sorry I still am for what I did to make that fight happen, for every blow struck against you, and for whatever mean (and I mean in the low-class, uncaring, dirty, and despicable sense) action or words that were used by me, before or after. ut I’ve always known that my part in that event was a sin, and one which I still hold onto. I have never forgotten about it.

32 years later. That guilt was still with him every day. And I had blocked him from my memory, because the pain of losing one more friend during those years was too much for me. We talked and shared our feelings. He was able to say sorry in person and I did too. Even though I didn’t remember, I was sorry. But to me I thought “what if I hadn’t made my site and found him?” Would that still haunt him to the end? Do we all have that inside us. But for me, a little more repair.

Finally, I want to share this more recent story that took place in December. By far, it was the hardest story for me. You see there was a moment in time when I was the bully and the guilt was in me. During Hebrew school class one day we put tacks on one of the kids chairs, not a few, like ten. We thought it would be funny. When he sat down it wasn’t. I felt bad about doing it. See he was the one who got picked on then and I was the one participating in it. I shared that as well on my site. Well, it seemed in the five years since I started it, my site and stories had been read by many and at what would have been the 25th reunion of the high school in Lexington, Massachusetts, it seems they were talking about me, the bully expert who writes about the bullying that happened there. It seems to some, I was a local hero to write about what happened to not just me, but I would find out to many. It seems that the boy, now a man, who we did the tack attack to heard as well and found his story on my site. I knew he did, because I heard from his friends, who wrote not too kindly to me. It was my turn to have to reach out and say I was sorry. I was racked with guilt…31 years later. I called him. I said the words…I’m Sorry…I expected anger. What I got was a wonderful conversation with an old friend who was happy for my call and for sharing our stories. He had it far worse, but he used it for strength. He repaired a bit. I repaired a bit. We talk often now…it is behind us.

I feel lucky to have had these three experiences for saying I’m Sorry. Many of the negative feelings that I started with five years ago have left me. I think in some way, I have helped others do the same. This weekend, I saw the documentary called BULLY that just came out. I wish I could tell you much has changed, but it seems not. In it, an awkward 14-year-old named Alex is beaten daily on the bus and ignored by all. His mother asks him “doesn’t it bother you, doesn’t it hurt you?” He just says in calm anger, “I really don’t think I feel anything at all anymore”. So what happens next to him, to others. There are many stories of children, young children, that commit suicide from bullying. It is too late to say I’m sorry after that and many are left with the guilt. I think it interesting that this weekend’s reading deals with Aaron and this loss of his children. Is this where the origin of Yom Kippur starts? What does that do to an individual…to society? These are rhetorical questions I ask often as I contemplate the issue of bullying.

What difference would it make if we just said “I’m Sorry” more often and meant it when we said it. As I and some of my elementary school friends have learned, it’s never too late to say you are sorry. It changes lives. And I can tell you it feels good just to say it and move on…

Jammer!…Oprostite!…Tevechi…Anteeksi…Desole…Gomen Nasai…Przepraszam!… Samahani…Xin loi… ANI MITZTA’ER…I’m Sorry.

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The blog site for this post contains a host of useful information on bullies and bullying, including hotline numbers.
To view the blog where this post originated, please follow the link below:
A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio

A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I attended an anti-bullying rally, walk, and party at my daughter’s school.  I commend highly all the students, families, and school personnel that were present.  Accolades especially to Channel 15, here in South Carolina, who realized it was an event worthy of some coverage.  That being said, I must admit that I was shocked and disappointed by the attendance.  All schools from  primary through high school were involved.  I expected there to be an enormous turn-out for such an important event.  I expected families to realize how horrible bullying in this country has become and to welcome this opportunity as a teaching opportunity to instill values in their kids.  No wonder there is such a problem when more families cannot take a few hours on a Saturday to come out and show their kids that they do not tolerate these or any other types of hate crimes.  And yes, I said crimes.

Bullying is different in some crucial ways than it was when I was a kid.  It is often no longer one-on-one, but a gang of childrenon one child.  It is no longer name-calling and maybe a scuffle or fist-fight.  It is daily torment.  It is facing assault and battery every day.  Can you imagine trying to work under such conditions?  It is broken bones from toilet seats being slammed on your fingers, or being pushed so fiercely, you break your ankles.  It is having your face pushed in a used toilet into someone elses’ feces.  This is horrifying to me that children are committing these crimes on children, and you need to be aware that it is an epidemic in our society.

this is my own version of what bullying looks like

this is my own version of what bullying looks like (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you think your child has never been bullied, sadly, you are probably wrong.  They were probably too humiliated to share the problem with you or don’t think you can do anything about it.  Children are killing themselves every single day because they can no longer take the daily punishment they undergo at the hands of these bullies.  Our kids are committing suicideand we sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of using the opportunity to take a stand and make a difference.

My kids didn’t want to go.  I made them go.  And we had a great time.  But I will tell you something else.  We listened to some other kids and parents describe unbelievable acts of hatred and violence and my kids realized where that bullying behavior can go if not stopped and stopped immediately.  We all felt our hearts hurt and they know, more than ever before, exactly where I stand on the subject.  My kids would never stand by and watch another child get bullied without intervening, even if they can only report it.  They know it is wrong.  Have you talked to your kids about bullying?  Have you asked what they have witnessed at school?  Because I guarantee you they have witnessed it.  Have you had the guts to ask if they have ever been bullied or bullied someone else?  I welcome your input on this topic and look forward to discussing this further on my blog.  Being bullied is not a “character builder.”  It is a crime.  How do you think it should be dealt with?  What can we do as families, as parents, as school personnel and as a community to end this violence?  Check back as I explore the dynamics of helping our kids learn to accept themselves and others in a healthy way, how to overcome being bullied, and how to overcome being a bully!

The Darkened Crystal

What emerges from the shadows?

Image via Wikipedia

“I see through a mirror darkly” . . .–N.T.

The more light I experience, the more sorrow I feel when I come across someone whose inner light is hidden by the dark smudges of negative thought.  I used to be like that person.  I know what it is like to live in a darkness out of which I cannot find my way.  Dealing with someone who dwells in that kind of spiritual darkness can be very frustrating.  I have been experiencing everything from sorrow to frustration to anger.  Keeping my perspective has been a real challenge.  I know how I want to respond, but often that is a far cry from what ends up happening.  So, as usual, when I am struggling with an issue, God in his all-embracing love, follows me around taking notes and puts people and print, music and the comics–his world is my training ground–anything and everything in this universe to work to express His guidance to me.

 

Today was a little different, though.  Today, a woman got up as a guest speaker at church and began talking about a woman she knew.  She described my life verbatim for the past seven years.  Word after word she outlined the details of my life.  She described a woman who became ill to the point of being practically bedridden and wheelchair bound.  Then her mother got cancer  and this same woman was able to get up out of bed to take care of her mother, but afterward, became even more ill than before.  This woman’s husband was even a truck driver.  I looked at my daughters and they were staring back at me mirroring the same open-mouthed expression of astonishment I could feel on my own face.  I had never met or conversed with the speaker.  What is more, she was talking about someone else.

 

She went on to relate how this woman had come to her for healing from many of the same problems that had beset me.  The speaker told the woman she was an extremely powerful creator to have formed a reality so negative that it left her bedridden.  Not that it was her fault, just that with our thoughts, we impact the circumstances of our own lives positively or negatively.  She asked the woman to think about it.  Two weeks later when she met with the client, this woman said she remembered exactly when she created her reality.  She was a giver to everyone; Never said, “no.”  But she felt very unappreciated.  In fact one day she spoke out loud the words that her family probably would never appreciate all that she did unless she was so ill she was bedridden.  (They’d be sorry then, huh!)

 

Love

Image by Noël Zia Lee via Flickr

Talk about God hitting you square between the eyes with a 2×4!  Listening to this story, first I was astonished, then I was overcome with sorrow, guilt, even shame.  But as this good woman spoke, she said that if this bedridden woman could create such a powerful reality from negative ideas–just imagine what she could create when she applied herself consciously to making a positive life for herself and her world!  Then my heart popped open inside my chest and swelled with such gratitude, I was overwhelmed.  This was my awakening, not to the idea that I could change my own life with my outlook– (I knew that!)–but that others were unaware and in such darkness, and I can love them and affirm them to a better place!

If I am powerful enough to evoke such healing in my own life by my mindful acceptance of what God has always had and wanted me to have, how much can I change the reality of my world with my light and love?  As I move myself out-of-the-way, who knows what God can accomplish through me?!  And when I come up against someone who just pushes all my buttons; I can learn to stand and hold to my own space and light and truth.  I have the choice not to participate in the negative.

 

I also don’t have to voice my “lofty opinion” to those who don’t want it or would disagree.  I can just walk in my own truth and look for a way that I can pour my love on the person and shift the negative energy to positive.  When I do not judge–yeah.  I know.  Easier said than done.  I am so good at convincing my self-righteous self  I am not judging, until I fall on my face in  all the crap I’m shoveling.  You probably never do that sort of thing yourself, but I’m good now; so we can share!

So, when I do not judge, but hold peace, I can shine my light and truth for others.  Then in their time–wow, not mine?  Really?  Okay?–they can find their way along their own spiritual path.  When I accept I am not responsible or in control of everyone else in my world things get so much easier.  Deep breath.

Love Love Love

Image by Gregory Jordan via Flickr

Breathing in the very breath of God here in my crystal room, I realize that love is born in fire.  Fire is great for light.  But if you’ve ever used a hurricane lamp, you know that if you turn that flame so high that it is licking the glass; the result will be black smoot that blocks the light from shining forth.  Turn it up higher and things eventually begin to melt, even that black smoot.  It burns away.  But the glass, although a different shape, is left behind sparkling clear.  I don’t need to back away from hurting people.  I just need to patiently stand until our fires burn clear and our lights meet, and more love is born.  One by one we can change the world.  Imagine. . .

Colors of Angels

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