I was reading on this new Michigan Law, "Matt's Safe School Law". The law is named after Matt Epling, a teen who committed suicide after being bullied further than he could handle, to the distinct displeasure and embarrassment of the teen's father due to the impotence of the law. It was passed by the entire Republican party portion of the Senate, and voted against by the entire Democratic party portion. Ought to tell us something, huh.
What I wanted to write about today was a boy I remember from school. He was one of the "popular" kids. Smart. Good looking. Athletic. He was part of the "in crowd", in a school predominantly white and of upwardly moving middle class parents. I was part of the lower middle class portion. I saw him everyday.
My school was dominated by the "in crowd". It was filled with alligator shirts, spiked hair, snooty attitudes, you name it. I was separate from that, sometimes its victim - and in a couple incidents I actually triumphed. Yet, no amount of physical aggression could overcome the snooty judgementalism of that in crowd.
Ok,...I'm dragging this along. You see, I remember this boy so well not because he was a bully, but because he was not. I have memories of the bullies to this day, but I'd be hard pressed to care one whit about them. But, this boy was kind. He was the anomaly of the 'in crowd' because he didn't judge others cruelly, didn't bully, didn't hate, didn't make people feel bad. He had a ready smile, a laugh, and a power to lead that was nearly magical. To this day I'd vote him for president.
I nearly cried to learn that he died at the age of 21. He fell asleep driving to college.
The sad thing about bullies is that even their friends don't really like them. It could be argued that they don't like themselves. Perhaps that is the real shame....that the bully lives on fear because that is such a great part of what he/she understands. Afraid others will see just how small and insignificant they feel. John was one who seemed so confident, so ready to smile and laugh, in contrast with some of the bullies I remember so well. They seemed to laugh only with a sneer, compared themselves to the "lesser beings about them", and felt the ability to deal out humiliation and misery a profound power. These boys peaked, in my eyes, in school. I left them behind me, remembering only their pathetic nature. John, on the other hand, I remember with a fondness and hope that even to this day I could be more like him. That is real power.