Monday, December 5, 2011

Compassion and Cruelty

This afternoon I was sitting here at the kitchen table working when my cell phone rang.  (I am back to working at the kitchen table as opposed to my office because of the recovery from my leg surgery.)  At first I thought the call was coming from Zack as it was at a time in which he will frequently call me if he is taking the late bus.  But no - the call was coming from the Dean of Students at Zack's school.  Gulp!  I always have a hard time when a call like that comes in.  Given my personal experience with the dean, I quickly asked him if Zack had done something.  His response was no. 

Instead of the dean calling because Zack had done something, he was calling because Zack had been reported as the subject of bullying by another kid.  The bullying happened on the school bus ride home on Friday.  Zack had stayed after school for an activity with the school play and so he had to take the late bus.  (His school district has two sets of afternoon buses.  One set of buses leave right after school is complete at 3:05PM and the other set of buses leave at 4:30PM when the after school activities wrap up.)  He was sitting in the back of the bus with several 8th graders when they started harassing him.  He didn't do anything about it, but another kid took notice and reported it to the bus driver.  The bus driver then stopped what was going on and reported the incident to the school this morning.

Normally I take these kind of things with a grain of salt.  Zack is very resilient and bullying doesn't get to him.  The fact that the incident had taken place last Friday and Zack hadn't mentioned it to me was evidence that it hadn't bothered him.  Then the dean told me what the incident was about and I did get upset.  It wasn't that some kid was calling him dumb.  It wasn't some kid saying he was ugly or some other kind of thing like that.  A kid was making fun of Zack because he doesn't have a mom.  That did upset me!  The fact that some kid or kids would choose to pick on Zack because his mom had died of leukemia is something that really pisses me off.  Why would some kid choose to pick on him for that of all reasons? 

I am proud of Zack for his strength and not letting the situation get to him.  In some ways I wish he would let the situations bother him, but in his avoidance of the bullying I see a strong positive trait that will potentially allow him to not have conflict when he is in high school.  I am just sorry that kids would pick on him for his mom having passed away.  That is just one of the worst things that kids can do to him.  But he handled it like a champ!!

For some reason when kids are Zack's age cruelty seems to be a common occurrence which forms the basis for a lot of the bullying that takes place.  The cruelty exhibited by kids can be harsh and seems to be part of how they determine the pecking order of their childhood society.  From my own personal experience when I was a kid, I do remember the cruelty that occurred.  Often given my shy nature I would be the target of cruelty.  Despite this it didn't make me immune to practicing cruelty on other kids.  One of the things I regret doing the most in my life I did as a teenager as a prank on another kid.  In the end run it was just plain cruel and it is something that even to this day of which I am regret.  I don't remember his name or I would look him up and apologize!

 ( I added the pictures today to put make everyone think of compassion.  The horse is very cute and I couldn't imagine ever not being compassionate to a horse!)

As we age that cruelty for the most part goes away.  It replaced with an understanding that you just can't do mean and cruel things to people.  Instead we just avoid people we don't like or we think "aren't cool" or whatever.  Once we are adults it seems we reserve cruelty for the people we care about the most.  We figure out things to say to them that cut to the bone when we argue.  Or we have behaviors that we know will hurt the people we care about.  So when we want to hurt those people who are important in our lives we reach for that cruelty and we act upon it.  I remember a couple of times being cruel to Patty when we would argue.  Even in recent years I have done cruel things - I distinctly remember arguing with Shelly one time using several words that I knew would just hurt her so deeply.  Yes - it was cruel and I hope I never to do things like that again.

Despite my own failings, in general I have a big problem with cruelty, anger and doing things to hurt people.  I really can't understand why people have to be so mean.  My viewpoint is always to turn the other cheek.  That might cause people to think that I am weak, but I think it shows strength in the fact that I can take their cruelty, anger and mistreatment and still be kind and compassionate to them.  There was an incident in March of this year in which a neighbor shot Lex in the hind quarters with a pellet gun.  Once it had been established what was done and who did what, I had to decide whether or not to press criminal charges.  I gave the situation a lot of thought and realized that I could be the better person by not pressing charges.  I knew why my neighbor shot at Lex (because he didn't like Lex and Lex always barked at him) but in the end run, Lex wasn't seriously hurt, my neighbor got the scare of his life from the police and won't do it again and I put myself in a position where my neighbor saw kindness and compassion from me instead of anger and hatred.  It was the right thing to do.

(Who can't think of compassionate thoughts when they see a litter of puppies?)

I face another situation right now where I have the opportunity to show love and compassion or be cruel and follow the letter of the law.  I will be compassionate.  As a matter of fact I will do everything in my power to ensure that the letter of the law is not applied.  Why - because I want my love and compassion to be known and felt.  I don't ever want to go back and look myself in the mirror and ask if I was cruel or not in this situation.  I want to be a better person than I have ever been before and never show cruelty again!  I want it to be a rule for me that I will always turn the other cheek and let people know that I don't want vindication, I don't want revenge, I don't want cruelty - I just want everyone to take responsibility for themselves and to know true compassion.

Perhaps I am naive.  Perhaps I am utterly silly, but I think that compassion is one of the most important traits we can display as human beings.  If we can't be compassionate then we lack such a large component of being human.  We must be able to put ourselves in other people's shoes and understand what they are feeling.  I believe compassion is one of the things that separates us from so many of the other animals that inhabit this earth.  Does an alligator feel compassion for another animal - I don't think so.  What about a shark?  Nope.  I will give you that many of the higher order mammals (elephants, dolphins, dogs, apes, etc.) can feel compassion and act compassionately.  I believe we as humans have a responsibility to our fellow humans and all other creatures upon this earth - and this involves being compassionate to them.  Personally, I think compassion is one of the most attractive traits a person can have - and that is all I have to say about that!

I don't know if any of this makes any sense or not.  But given Zack being bullied for the reason he was bullied and given this situation I face, I just think that compassion is so important and I needed to write about it tonight.

On to other things...

Earlier this morning my physician called with the results of my MRI from Friday.  It is pretty much what everyone suspected.  Due to the use of muscles on only my one side while I was in the cast and boot, I have a herniated disc in my back that is impinging on many of the nerves to my left leg.  This of course is causing the severe pain I have been experiencing for the last 4 weeks.  I see my orthopedic surgeon tomorrow so I am waiting to hear what her proposed course of action is.  In all likelihood the course of action we take will be doing nothing except for taking anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers.  I won't mind as long as I can continue to get more of my mobility back.

Well that is it for a Monday night. It is now time to sign off the computer for the day and go spend some time winding down for the evening before I go to bed.  Zack and I already had our relaxation time together and he is now sound asleep in bed.  Tonight our relaxation time was watching an episode of "Build It Bigger" from the Discovery Channel.  It was on DVR.  You have to love having a DVR!

I hope everyone here in Colorado is prepared for the cold, cold night we are facing.  Stay warm!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

1 comment:

Elasti-Girl; Kris said...

It is refreshing & encouraging to know that someone "out there" spent time and energy contemplating & writing about such a beautiful thing as compassion. :) It is a beautiful thing indeed. I am so sorry to hear that Z was bullied in such a way; as awful and heart breaking that is, it seems to me that you are raising a boy to become a Man. Good job.