I saw a video a little while back that has left me in a quandary. My feelings were definitely mixed.
I’m not going to share it — many have probably seen it and it is a little disturbing. It depicts a typical middle school boy bullying one of his classmates … a larger, quieter boy who took the pokes and verbal abuse until he snapped in Ralphie style when he picked up — literally — the smart ass punk and body slammed him onto the pavement. The boy got up dazed, I suspect a little bloodied and definitely feeling the pain inflicted upon him. All this went on while classmates watched and at least one person caught the confrontation presumably with his/her cell phone.
That’s where the quandary comes in. Part of me wanted to scream, “Take that you little bully shit.” Another part of me felt sorry for the little punk. And most of my thought went out to both protagonists … the bully who will carry the scars of the body slam for years and the bullied boy and his family who likely faced repercussions from the assault.
Just so you know, I would classify myself as a dovish hawk. I believe in justified violence … but only after all other more diplomatic efforts are exhausted. I don’t condone bullying and realize sometimes, just sometimes, the only way to stop it is to, well, stop it. I feel the larger boy was well within his rights to retaliate. It may have been an unexpected response to the ridicule, but it certainly made an impact.
I only got into one fight in my life. I was that larger boy in high school. It all happened during a high school bowling league. I was captain of the Don Bosco Tech squad involved in an important match. On the lanes next to us was a squad from Paterson Tech. They were not being serious and, in fact, very disruptive. Repeatedly I requested them to tone it down. Repeatedly they got louder and more abusive until I suddenly found myself nose to nose with the Paterson Tech captain, a lad a little lighter and shorter than I. Somewhere during our exchange of words, we found ourselves migrating outside the bowling alley where the glasses came off and we started to battle. Both of us got in a couple of good licks [of course, today, guns, knives or chains might have been on the scene … so kids, do not try this at home or in the streets] before coaches and alley personnel broke up the fisticuffs. After a couple of minutes to decompress, we shook hands and went back to the business at hand … bowling.
I realized a few things after the incident. I did not like black eyes. I scared myself with the power I had to split a kid’s lip with just one punch. We never had any problem from the Paterson Tech crew after that … even when we bowled head to head.
Was the fight justified? Don’t know, not even to this day. It’s part of the quandary. Obviously, by standing up to the bullies (Paterson Tech) we (Don Bosco Tech) became less bullied. And since the incident was settled captain vs. captain, perhaps more escalation was averted.
Since the incident fifty years ago, I have tried to sheath my strength in weakness and gently take a stand. I’m no patsy, but I do know I have to control my anger because, I, too, could go Ralphie. I’ve tried to pass that message along to my children — especially my sons. It’s strength of character that makes a man or woman.
I hope the two boys in the video are okay. I hope today’s generation realizes violence is not an answer. I pray for a respect for life. I pray for the bullies. I pray for the bullied. I long for the day when we can beat our swords into plowshares.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: You have wings. Learn to use them and fly. You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings.