Happy Harmony Day, Australia!

Great post for this month’s #1000Speak on Building from Bullying

beyondtheflow

Today, it’s Harmony Day in Australia which is all about standing up for and defending inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.

However, while it’s much easier to talk and wax lyrically about acceptance, tolerance and understanding, it is much harder to implement these essential values into the daily grind.

While we might fight for the popular causes of social injustice, especially when they are shouted out by the media, we so often miss and even walk over the supposedly invisible battlers who even live alongside us. Their plight might slip through the radar but if we truly used our eyes and ears and slowed down to walk in their shoes, we would know that they could use an extra helping hand to feel valued and included. Given my personal situation, I have a real heart for all who live with a disability. While many go on and…

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If One Million People Were Listening, What Would You Say?

an important message

Uncommon Graces

When Katy Perry hit the field at halftime Super Bowl Sunday, the crowd exploded with excitement, but I didn’t.

Before taking the stage, she expressed to the media,

I just hope that at the end of the day, over 100 million people are all smiling in unison.

I was one of the people who wasn’t smiling. For 12 minutes, Katy Perry took the stage with an opportunity before her to share one very powerful message. She missed it.

No More

As they anticipated the publication of the first No More commercial aired by the NFL during an event as momentous as the Super Bowl, the Joyful Heart Foundation exclaimed,

A historic 30 seconds!

When videos like Ray Rice’s go viral, the world loves to join in on the hype. But for survivors and victims all over the world, the video served as a trigger and a reminder. We didn’t just watch, we felt…

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1000 Voices for Compassion – thoughts on bullying…

This month 1000 Voices for Compassion is focused specifically on bullying. I’d been unable to come up with a coherent piece on the subject, and I’m certainly not an expert in the field, so I was thinking about giving it a pass, but as I was going through some quotes this morning, two of them kind of jumped out at me, so I decided to get back on track.

“A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever.”

— Jessamyn West

Perhaps because of my own, somewhat limited, experiences, when I think if bullying, I tend to think less about physical bullying, and more about the harder-to-detect/easier-to-ignore psychological types. Physical bullying leaves bruises, scars, and other tangible proofs. It makes it obvious to others that there’s something wrong. And that obviousness can make it possible for an outsider to try to intervene. That they often don’t – because they either can’t or won’t – is a topic for another day.

When we were children, we all learned to chant ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me’. But that’s not true – they have the power to do lasting damage.

When I was a kid, long before the information age, non-physical bullying took the form of name calling and taunting, ostracism, whispers, and passed notes in class. The victim was usually perceived to be ‘different’ somehow – too smart, too dumb, too fat, too thin, too awkward. Kids can be incredibly mean, particularly in the middle school years, and more particularly when they are busy seeking acceptance of their own.

Now the realm of adolescent (and stalled-at-13-adult) cruelty extends to cyberbullying and internet trolling. Frequently anonymous, and sometimes with a disturbing amount of adult help, social media is used as a weapon. Don’t like a kid at school? Lie about them on Facebook, threaten them on Twitter, post doctored photos on Instagram. The possibilities are endless. Don’t like what someone posted on Facebook, commented on an article, or wrote in a blog? Threaten them in the comments, cyberstalk them – and if you’re very unstable, find out where they live. The information age, which has brought us closer together in many ways, has brought with it a wide-reaching way of bullying people. And made it easier than ever to do it anonymously.

Some kids, some adults, are just more resilient than others. They are temperamentally capable of riding through the painful years with minimal damage to show for it – except perhaps lingering food or trust issues. Other kids, other adults, do not have that same level of resiliency. These are the kids that need much stronger support systems, but often don’t have them – or perhaps more importantly, don’t perceive them to be there. When the bullying is not physical, how often do we echo our own parents and teachers by telling our own children, to just ignore it. Walk away. Don’t let them know they’ve gotten to you – they just want a reaction. Sometimes that does work, but it can be incredibly difficult advice to follow. What adolescents need, as they pull away from their parents and forge their own identities, is acceptance from their peers. Some kids, with not only less natural resiliency, but also an underlying psychiatric issue, like depression, are completely unable to cope with the bullying, and the harassment, and act out – to harm themselves or others.

I am a big fan of not-micromanaging my kids – I hope that they have absorbed enough from me and their father that they are able to make good decisions, and to deal with the wide assortment of things that life throws at us. This seems to be contrary to what’s considered to be good parenting these days. And the schools might possibly have ‘zero tolerance’ policies toward too many things. When my older daughter was six I received a call from the Vice Principal to let me know that a boy in her class, who was standing behind her in line after lunch, has flipped up the back of her skirt. An incident that she barely noticed (and she was wearing heavy tights, anyway). He wanted to let me know that they’d spoke to the boy and notified his parents so I was not to worry. I kept a straight face, but I wasn’t worried, wasn’t disturbed, and figured that as long as it didn’t become a daily event none of us had anything to worry about. And it didn’t, and we didn’t. Because these were six year olds. There is something to be said for letting kids work things out themselves – we should, whenever possible, do that. Enemies can, strangely, become friends virtually overnight – just as the reverse can happen. Kids are still figuring themselves out – they have to learn to deal with life, and the other people in it, in order to survive adulthood. After all, you can’t run to mom the first time your boss criticizes something you’ve done. But we, as the responsible adults, also have an obligation to pay attention, and figure out for ourselves when it might be time to ask if we can help.

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.”

— Flora Edwards

I certainly don’t have the answers – parenting didn’t come with a handbook. Neither did navigating thrrough adolescence. Or surviving adulthood.

Bu I do believe that, as fully functioning adult humans, we do have a responsibility to help when we can. If we see the signs of emotional bullying, or cyberstalking, we do have an obligation to speak out – especially when we know, or suspect, that the victim is particularly vulnerable. We also need to be cognizant of our own word choices, especially with children, because even for the more resilient among us, those words can still remain in our heads, coloring our behavior, for decades. Compassion should be for itself alone, and not for gain, or to make ourselves feel better. But the end result of helping others is that you also help yourself to grow. And the kindness you show, will in turn be shown, most times, by the recipient to someone else. And so the circle grows.

Welcoming spring with more snow?

Tomorrow is the first day of spring – a season that those of us in the Northeastern United States are surely longing for in earnest this year (although the occasional partial road collapse is a bit disconcerting).

And what, pray tell, does Mother Nature have in store for us on the 2015 Vernal Equinox? Well, if you live even remotely near me, a few more inches of snow to cover those patches that no longer have any left. This is the winter that wouldn’t die. But, I’m sure that in a few short months we can all start complaining about how hot and humid it is because that sums up the weather around here for most of the year – damp. Whether hot or cold, damp is the prevailing theme.

The other thing the equinox brings with it this year, for those of you fortunate enough to be anywhere along the path, is a total eclipse of the sun. Scary thing to behold – especially in the days before the movement of the earth and the sun were understood.

Zeus, the father of the
Olympic Gods, turned
mid-day into night, hiding the light
of the dazzling Sun;
and sore fear came upon men.

Archilochus (c680-c640 BC)

Introduce Your Blog

a wonderful idea & a great opportunity to share – now all I need is a creative post…

A Momma's View

Hey everyone. I thought we can do round two of ‘Introduce Yourself’. Meet other bloggers here in the comments to this post. But please do not only share your blog’s URL… let’s take it a step further!

I just got nominated for the ‘Creative Blogger Award’ and I thought I might be a bit creative here and instead of nominating bloggers for this award, offer you all the opportunity to share your most creative blog post here. Yes! You decide which of your posts was the most creative and then you share it with all of us here. The first 20 to comment will be the bloggers I choose to be my nominees for the ‘Creative Blogger Award’.

Now go for it 🙂 And yes, of course you can share this post with your followers!

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Tuesday’s Quotes #16 – Hubris

For a variety of reasons, not least arrogant politicians, conspiracy theorists, and ruling class billionaires, I have found myself contemplating hubris quite a bit recently, so I’m deviating from my single quote form this week to provide a few quotes that reflect on the very deadly sin of hubris.

I started down this meditative path when I came upon this wonderful Cicero quote, and wished that more people in a position of power, or celebrity, saw its simple truth:

“The higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk.”

Here, then, is a random sampling of variations on the theme:

“Man has always assumed that his is the highest form of life in the universe. There is, of course, nothing at all with which to sustain this view.” — James Thurber

“Men and women believed and proclaimed God was firmly on their side – and easy and shallow assertion that reduced God to a sort of house deity.” — Gustav Niebuhr

“If we do good to those we evaluate as good and evil to those we evaluate at the evil, and we are wrong, we have been made the world less just.”  — Plato

“It is the mark of the mind untrained to take its own processes as valid for all men, and its own judgments for absolute truth.”  — Aleister Crowley

“Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune. ”  — C.G. Jung

“Be sure of this, O young ambition, all mortal greatness is but disease.”  — Herman Melville

“There, pride, avarice, and envy are the tongues men know and heed, a Babel of despair”  — Dante Alighieri

Image is from a slide presentation on Elements of Greek Tragedy and the Tragic Hero on slideshare.net