One of the worst memories I have as a child is my 5th grade year, which I spent in Central Elementary in my home town. That was the year I experienced humiliation, racism, and ostracization. @JenPink can attest to the type of town I’m writing about. This is the type of town that is limited on critical, independent thinking, especially when you’re a black person whose default disposition is not “thug.” During that year, I suffered many jokes of various kinds. I learned that being black was not just different, but it was a punchline, a point of contention. Quickly, I learned that I was different, and I learned how cruel people can be. Friends traded up, and banjos seemed to blare in replace of the morning bell. My grades suffered as well as my ability to trust others and to build new relationships.
When I went to my new school, at Northside Elementary it was better, but there were some people who were determined to make my life hell. At Northside, I was in a neighborhood school with some of my peers. They seemed better in one way, which was that we all had the same family issues. Since they were black, there were no racial connotations in their choice of insults, but they were no nicer; moreover, fights were more frequent. I suffered at the hands of a few people who were my on-and-off-again friends. This all changed when everyone discovered I had a good jump shot and lock down defense. Then, my life began.
I know this story is not unique, and there is nothing special about my upbringing. But it was mine. Now, I’m married with two great kids and live in a good neighborhood with extremely low crime. You could say that I’m doing alright. I look back on the people who laughed at me, the assholes who made jokes at my expense because I was a “thinker,” and the douches who forced me to fight with nostalgia. Why, you ask? Every single one of the fucks who thought they were hot shit are now fat, miserable ex-cons. Or worse … Republicans. Time has been the true vindicator.
The moral of the story: bullies and rejection can push us to be better. Never did I want to be like the assholes who tormented me. This made me more empathetic. I developed a protective instinct toward others, which I am proud of.
Unfortunately, most of the people in recent generations will have a tough time expressing these feelings. Mainly, this is due to the culture of passive aggressiveness we have let infiltrate our tender society.
There are two reasons why our nation is being boiled down to a comment section.
- Our children are being taught that everyone is equal.
- We don’t let our children experience pain and rejection.
On some level no matter how liberal you are, you know that I’m right about the two previous statements. We teach our kids from a very young age that everyone is equal and everyone has a right to say what they want — if you don’t like it, you’re hatin’. We give everyone a trophy for showing up to the game, and we don’t cut the worst player from the team. In fact, we have to give the worst player some game time, instead of encouraging them to excel in something they’re good at doing. We promote delusions of grandeur and then turn around and wonder, “What’s wrong with these kids?”
Okay, what happens when testosterone jocks are forced to watch a sub-par player be substituted in the game? Resentment? Anger? Maybe. I can’t relate, and do you know why? We cut players when I was a kid. It forced those who were cut to practice harder or try something else. Character-building is the name of the game for all children. Yes, this is related to bullying, because rejection from one’s peers is the same as being rejected from a sports team. It’s rejection they need. How can you truly appreciate friends, money, jobs, etc. if you’ve never earned them? That’s why some many Americans walk around living a paradox.
We have to know both sides of the coin. Americans feel we MUST be happy all the time. Well, in theory that sounds great, but how would you know you’re happy if you’ve never been sad? How can you feel love without ever feeling hate? To have a sympathetic and empathetic population, we must experience emotions across the spectrum to understand ourselves and others. How Stepford Wives would it be if we were happy all of the time?
We constantly shield our kids from everything. We do everything short of bubble-wrapping our kids before bedtime. Recently, our state government in Minnesota signed an anti-bullying law, essentially making it against the law to be mean to someone. What’s next, a “no mean faces” bill? Or a “no impure thoughts” ordinance? GTFOOH! How does a person develop the skills to deal with assholes if they’re being told, “Don’t be mean, okay?”
I love my kids like you do. I will want to flatten the nose of anyone who hurts my little girl or makes my son feel bad. I’m aware of my hypocrisy… I’m working on it. But, I try to let my son handle his adversities so he can be better equipped to deal with douche-bags when he gets older. Time will tell if this works or not. I’m praying his woes will turn into wows.
We need more rejection because we learn more from our failures and tormentors than we learn from our successes and friends. I was a boy who was bullied and rejected, yet I took that pain and came out stronger on the other side. Imagine if someone made the other kids pretend they liked me, or at least act like they tolerated me. I would be delusional, thinking that no one is allowed to be mean to me. Then what kind of asshole would I have turned out to be?