Bygone Bullies Prepared Me For 2020

My younger self would’ve never believed it possible that, come 2020, I’d actually be able to put a positive spin on being bullied from the 4th grade thru the 9th grade (inclusive)… in other words, for 46% of my K-12 pubic schooling experience.

What I learned from being verbally / physically assaulted… even spat on… had actually given me some firsthand insight into discrimination and brutality issues. And my retreat from that ugly scene had even better prepared me for coping with a pandemic shut down world.

You see, my tormentors had unwittingly taught me what it feels like to be discriminated against. In turn, feeling sorry for myself had actually taught me how to feel empathy for similarly persecuted individuals. So, whenever / wherever I see oppression rearing its ugly head… well… my heart sinks and eyes tear up.

To put a face on wretched discriminatory conduct, we look no further than Donald J. Trump’s insensitive, in-your-face and online bullying… all for the express purpose of devaluing precious human beings based upon their ethnicity, religion, orientation, physical attributes and disabilities. And as if that weren’t bad enough, already, there are also his stunningly childish, vicious, ad hominem verbal attacks.

But let’s dig deeper into to the specifics of my days of yore M.O. to avoid bullies. To put it into pandemic parlance… this involved none other than social distancing / isolating. Other than my parents and only sibling, my only after school contacts with humanity had been listening to my transistor radio in my bedroom. The affable DJs and the recording artists they featured, during their broadcasts, had become akin to my surrogate friends.

By the time my rebellious teen years arrived, I opted to appear so radically different from my oppressors that I grew my hair long. Interestingly enough, my winding up in violation of my school’s stringent grooming protocols, left the assistant principal few options but to suspend me! And this was to punish me HOW? Anyway, in time, long hair styles became my lifelong preference. And that certainly doth work out well when a pandemic shuts down the barber shops.

Granted, about three years into the new millennium, I began entertaining the notion of seeking and experiencing the life I had never had… i.e. to make the most of whatever time I have left… but how doth one quickly kick lifelong, hermitlike habits, such as mine? Of course, the Trumpian Flu soon rendered that Q a moot point.

Ergo, I’ve now come to the realization that that life may never happen… mainly because the powers that be… drawing on the abundance of their density and rapacity… have opted to prematurely re-open our world. And… long sigh… the resurgence of COVID-19 is already underway.

Now, whether or not we’re ordered back into our bunkers, that’s where I’ll be. These days, I won’t even need to rely on radio DJs anymore.

You see, yearning for a career that would jibe with my reclusive lifestyle, I had chosen Communications Arts for my college major… i.e., in hopes the radio station studio might, someday, become my new hide out from a bully saturated world.

And, when that plan didn’t pan out, I set up a modest home studio… where in the months of corona sequestration, yet to come, I’ll be spinning my own LPs / CD’s for an audience of one… moi.

 

Stay Safe… Stay Home… Stay Healthy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practicing What MLK Preached?

I can certainly relate to the story of Memphis Tennessee, High School freshman Michael Todd. As an eons ago public school student, I, too, had been verbally abused by bullies.

However, unlike Todd’s situation, [1] my poverty “fashion statement” was not what had attracted my tormentors’ attention, [2] I wound up cutting so many classes, one school year, that I almost failed to get promoted to the next grade and [3] it took six long years before my story concluded with a not so happily-ever-after outcome… i.e., my emotional / psychological wounds have never really healed, completely. BTW, it’s doubtful that even my tormentors could’ve even begun to explain their “rationale” for bullying me.

But, to return to Memphis…

Todd’s bullies turned benefactors, seniors Kristopher Graham and Antwan Garrett, eventually, were able to tap into their consciences… to the point of apologizing and also donating some clothes to their newfound friend.

Seeing how they attend classes within a building named Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, might what happened be akin to a practical application of Dr. King’s message? To be sure, he would’ve approved of Graham and Garrett’s sudden change of heart and good deed… their commitment to end bullying.

 

 

 

 

My Brother’s Keeper

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: My being only a casual reader of the Bible, I’ve never deemed it a page turner worthy of a cover to cover read. Admittedly, my interpretations of scripture can stray unto paths less “traveled” by the major league, professional theologians.

Nevertheless… hopefully… you and I can still lace up our athletic footwear and… upon tying all of the required double knots… go for a walk through life. I think you’ll find our journey enjoyable be the road you’re upon secular, devout or somewhere in the middle. So… are you with me?

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” is rooted to the Biblical Story of two brothers… Cain and Abel… that very question attributable to the fratricidal sociopath, Cain, who uttered those words to God with a haughtiness and hostility that… well…

Let’s just say that had this involved a vengeful, small “g” god… such a deplorable attitude would’ve invited… at the very least… one hurled lightning bolt. Indeed, could we not envision such a PO’d deity gleefully training his glowering, evil eye’s “crosshairs” on “home plate”, winding up his throwing arm and delivering the perfect, strike-three-and-your out “pitch”? ZAP! Cain’s miserable hide reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes?

To help bring this “brother’s keeper” issue into better focus, let’s apply it to a more contemporary setting. It’s regrettable, but true, that we are facing down what has become our “What’s in it for me” society, where we’re discovering way too many individuals who… either unwittingly or willfully… are unleashing Cain’s arrogance and aggression.

Whatever happened to that sense of obligation to humanity? That eagerness to look out for the well-being of one another? That desire to keep each other out of harm’s way?

When we really think about it, aren’t nearly all of us living examples of how humanity’s very survival depends upon these vital to life, unifying attitudes? I know I’ve benefited from them. Indeed, when I had least expected it, one selfless soul had rushed to my rescue.

This all gets backdated to my early childhood, when I first met Danny. His being one year older hadn’t gotten in the way of our becoming best friends. Being next door neighbors, too, meant we could spend countless hours of quality playtime together. In essence, he had become my big brother, I, his little brother.

Of course, once my family had moved out of the neighborhood, everything changed… and not always for the better. You see, in the meantime… or maybe I should rephrase that to say… IN THE MEAN TIME… a handful of my public school system’s bullies were having a grand old time sadistically and mercilessly targeting me with their verbal abuse and physical assaults. They had totally demolished my sense of self-esteem… had literally driven me into abject, social isolation… demoralized me to the point where my already infrequent returns to my (one mile distant) old stomping grounds (to visit Danny) soon became non-existent. Had these bullies severed our brotherly bond, too? Only time would tell…

As one would expect, the passage of time didn’t diminish my tormentors “visits” with me. One day, with my streaming tears further fueling their viciousness and uproarious laughter… just as I was feeling that I could not possibly take it any longer… a raised authoritative, familiar voice began sternly ordering them all to stand down. Nope, it wasn’t the school principal or even a teacher taking charge.

It was none other than Danny!

Factoring in my distraught state of mind and my blurred with tears vision, I had almost deemed him a too-good-to-be-true apparition. I don’t know where he had found such bravery. His being outnumbered FOUR to ONE, I seriously doubt he could’ve stood his / my ground, had this actually come down to physical blows. Indeed, mere moments later, both Danny and I were saved by the bell… the ringing school bell… that had sent us all hurriedly scurrying off to our designated classrooms.

My biggest regret has always been how I had neglected to thank Danny, my big brother on two levels. For his [1] I’ve got your six schoolhouse corridor intervention and [2] imparting upon his little brother… by example, not by intent… his “I’m my brother’s keeper” sensibilities.

To keep all of this real… I do know there’s very little chance that Danny will ever read these words. In fact, he may no longer even be amongst the living. Even so, I’ll say this anyway…

My eternal gratitude to you, Daniel H.
Last known locale: Bremerton, Washington

 

 

 

 

Bully For You? Bull $#!+

 

For an unbearably long time, my homeland’s K-12 schools… and their worldwide equivalents… have been the breeding grounds / training camp sites for bullies. Considering how the inter-generational cycle of abuse tends to kick in (pun intended), what becomes of the once-upon-a-time abused when they become… oh… say… today’s public / private school staffers? Well… in that capacity / incapacity… they oft either practically wink their approval at each new crop of bully bastards… or turn a blind eye to them.

It’s almost as if some educators’ measure of “scholastic achievement” focuses upon how effectively bullies can irreparably scar their victims (both emotionally and physically). Hmmm… instead of the failing grade bullies deserve, do they award them with an A+? Is extra credit assessed if the victims need [1] hospitalization… [2] a shrink… [3] a visit from the undertaker?

Adding insult to the victim injuries… on the rare instances where a tormented student does strike back… almost invariably… school personnel punish ONLY the retaliator (to the further delight of each bully). Hell… were school staffers’ favoritism any more blatant, the playground and hall monitors would be charging admission to the bullies’ verbal and physical attacks.

Perhaps such assessments are too cynical? Too harsh?

Let’s be fair here. Let’s look at this from the teacher’s side of the desk. Many underpaid educators are so overworked and over-stressed, it’s inevitable that they’d become nose-blind to the bully stench… to the point where the victims start falling through the cracks.

And, when victims’ only remaining options boil down to fight or flight… especially if it’s the latter… that’s when further damage kicks in (again, pun intended). Once these kids start feigning illness to avoid going to school… this all but guarantees both academic and developmental stunting / stagnation.

Let’s consider what happens once abused, stunted students eventually enter… no… strike that… DON’T enter grown-up society…

Social isolation… their learned response… to varying degrees… becomes their way of life. Such deep-down emotional stains don’t fade with time, either. And most assuredly, that’s no way to go through life! Hell… that’s not life at all!

Long Sigh….

I’m certain there are hundreds of thousands of bullying victims spanning our entire globe… each one waking up each new day wondering…

“Who might I have become… how much further ahead in life might I have gone… had insensitive school personnel heard my literal cries for help… had they come to my defense instead of enabling my tormentors’ indefensible, socially unacceptable behavior?”

How can I be so certain? Well… did you notice that above blockquote’s beginning / ending punctuation?

That’s me talking. That’s the very question I’ve been asking myself for the past 50+ years!

 

 

Elise Ecklund vs. UnSocial Media ~ Vid of the Day

 

To keep this (mostly) on a positive note…

Mega-kudos to you, Ms. Ecklund! I commend you for your mastery of the ukulele, limitless singing talent, pleasant cheerful speaking voice and clever witty manner you’ve utilized to cope with ill-mannered comment posters and their absolutely inaccurate, totally uncalled for rude and vulgar remarks.

I cannot begin to fathom what motivates some individuals. Mind you… they login to a SOCIAL media platform, check their manners at the door and then go out of their way to single out and unleash their UNSOCIABLE tirades against an obviously wonderful, beautiful human being… such as you.

It would appear that such individuals are either unaware of… or have chosen to defy… the following wisdom…

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

That said, I am so glad that you were able to use their own words to illustrate your point… to morph their negatives into something positive… to make this a teaching moment… to deliver your much needed lesson of kindness all across the www.

We can only hope that hearing their own words will help them reclaim their hearts, take your message to heart and establish some semblance of civility.

 

Four-Play (Week #11) (Dedicated To All Bullying Victims)

Welcome to my eleventh Internet Blogcast. Duly saddened by recent events where cyber bullies have been attacking the defenseless, four-year-young Blue Ivy… daughter of Beyoncé… and in consideration of the fact that, with September upon us, the new school year is starting for millions of kids… this week I’m featuring four anti-bullying themed tracks.

As a “survivor” of five years worth of self esteem obliterating, grade school bullying… well… I think you can understand my motivation for utilizing music to set the record straight re this societal scourge. I won’t get into the details of my own horror stories since I’ve already blogged about them HERE.

As a DJ, I realize that most of us desire music, which provides escapism from life’s problems. However, considering that there’s little to no escape for bullying victims, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we all give these tracks the attention they truly deserve. Hopefully this music will raise awareness of the problem be you a parent or a school kid… or “just” someone who really gives a damn.

Since the song lyrics speak for themselves… that’s my cue to shut up and deliver the goods… well… except for performing some routine, blogcast housekeeping duties…

I’m now down to two remaining programs in my experimental 13 week run. I encourage you to give me a listen again… you never can tell what you’ll be hearing seven days from now.

For any of you who may’ve missed past blogcasts and/or would like to hear previous shows again, they’re all neatly archived in my music category.

Blog response will be akin to Arbitron / Nielsen “radio ratings”… so… if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, click that “Like” Star. Of course, comments (as well as song requests) are always welcome, too!

 

Mark Wills ~ Don’t Laugh At Me

Rachael Lynn ~ Dare To Be Different

Keenan West ~ Never Ever

Michael & Marisa ~ The Same

 

Bullying: Gateway “Drug” To Terrorism

While serving out my life sentence here on Earth, I’ve been singled out, verbally abused, spat on, sucker punched and blindsided. No… that is not my résumé and filled out application to the Vatican… ISO Canonization. No… I am not lobbying to win an Oscar in the “best supporting martyr” and/or “best original tragedy” categories.

And it’s just as well that I’m not actually seeking any of the above accolades. After all… one of the prerequisites for attaining sainthood is being dead. Ergo, that job interview with the Pope ain’t gonna happen (he wouldn’t hear me out when I’m alive and couldn’t hear me out after I’m dead). Furthermore, since I’m only acting happy in the real world… not on the Hollywood big screen, there’d be no red-carpeted ceremonies, awarded statues and acceptance speeches… especially since those categories I typed out above are actually non-existent.

Beyond that… I would never set foot on a carpet dyed red with my own blood… never want any awards to remind me of all the abuse I had suffered… never thank my tormentors for having made THAT all possible.

So… why start out my blog that way? Well, that’s to establish my credibility in addressing today’s topic… bullying. Now… before I go on…

For any parent who suspects or knows their kid is being bullied, don’t ever dismiss this as “Oh… it’s only a phase” and/or “It’s just a part of growing up.” Bullying can occur wherever your kid goes… even online. Take whatever actions are necessary to end this wide-awake nightmare… even if you have to get an assist from your local police department. YES, it REALLY IS that serious! 

My best advice to a kid who is being bullied… tell a parent, a friend’s parent, every teacher, coach, principal, vice principal, security guard and cop you can find… and don’t stop telling until someone listens. Trust me… I know it can be tough… but you must keep trying. There’s no need to let bullies ruin your life the way they ruined mine.

Yes, I am a survivor of being bullied, however, this is a double-edged sword phenomenon. Once the realization sets in that no amount of sympathy and time ever fully heals the deeply gouged, emotional wounds, the matter of survival almost becomes secondary.

As proof of that ~ For me, those above listed attacks had started in the fourth grade and did not begin to ease up until my high school freshman year… yet… here I blog about these incidents half a century later… still feeling the anguish.

What hurts even worse than that is my knowing that the people who should’ve helped me through those rough times had all turned a deaf ear to my cries for help.

My teacher, Mrs. L… even with my forehead’s visible knot and bleeding scrapes and contusions before her very eyes… had callously deadpanned, “It takes two to make a fight”… her implication being that my having been attacked had, somehow, been what? My own fault?

Well I had assured her then… as I assure you now… I had not fought back AND the only way I had provoked that bully was by merely showing up at school. Of course, for me to fly beneath any bully’s radar was next to impossible.

My principal, Mr. R… after reading the letter where my Dad had demanded that he put an end to this bullying… had replied in a unique, totally irresponsible and insensitive way. I had just taken a bite out my sandwich when he waltzed into the lunchroom and came over to my table to say, “Follow me.”

He marched me to the front of my school’s cafeteria, turned on the figurative, center stage spotlight and then, while hundreds of my classmates watched intently, he wagged his pointing finger within mere inches of my horrified face and verbally assaulted me… humiliated me… for what seemed to be an eternity. You see, in his addled mind, his school had no bullying problem and that could only mean that I was a liar.

At that precise moment he had become the biggest bully in that entire school. And once those like-minded “students” had realized that even the principal hated me / was on their side… well… need I even finish that sentence?

At that point, I was feeling nauseous… almost to the point of throwing up all over Mr. R… I wish I had. When it was finally over, after my classmates had rushed out the exits for our afternoon recess, I sat back down at my table… all alone. Staring down at my lunchbox I waited to see if my appetite would return. I wound up tossing that food into the garbage can.

I then managed to find a remote spot on the playground far away from my classmates… and as the minutes ticked down, dreaded going back inside for afternoon classes. The icy cold grip of the season and social isolation both numbed me. I was convinced that any friends, who I once had, were now siding with the bullies, too.

From that day onward, I kept a low profile… used every minor illness (and even feigned some) as an excuse to stay home from school… and I did miss a lot.

Fortunately, both of my parents had their degrees in education (My mother had briefly taught English and Literature prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom / my father’s career as a Science and Math instructor spanned four decades). I have their home schooling efforts to credit for keeping me current in my schoolwork AND on the “All-A” Honor Roll.

Nonetheless, I was missing out on the more positive aspects of social interaction with my non-bullying classmates. Home schooling, by its very nature, does preclude  that.

At least my parents had been there for me… had the circumstances been otherwise, I could’ve easily wound up becoming an Elementary school dropout. Hell, I might’ve run away from home or even committed suicide.

Sadly… my real life story / tragedy is far from original ~ Countless others, throughout the wretched history of humankind, have suffered far worse indignities than I have… at levels of severity inclusive of their being denied their basic human right to a peaceable, natural death.

It’s not too strong a statement to say… when teachers and principals fail to order bullies to stand down, that can only embolden them. Bullies will easily misinterpret an absence of any discipline as being tacit approval of their socially unacceptable behavior.

It’s not too strong a statement to say… today’s bully has all the necessary “job skills” to become tomorrow’s terrorist… be that the lone wolf who opens fire on an Elementary School… be that an al Qaeda operative who kamikazes a jet into high-rise architecture… be that a ringleader, rabblerousing presidential candidate who fans the flames of deadly hate crimes all across our once great land… and outward to every corner of our world.

Although each incident’s MO and body count particulars will differ… it’s all the same old sh–!.

 

Blog revisions posted on 03/28/2016 @ 18:29