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What Did You Say?

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“A word spoken in wrath is the sharpest sword.”

The above quote is one I had not heard before, but is so true. These words of wisdom come from Buddha (supposedly) who seems to have a good handle on the fact that you don’t have to have physical weapons to deeply wound someone. The whole “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is a lie.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. The New Jersey Department of Education requires that the first week of October is observed as Kindness Week. A few years back, an anti-bullying group designated the first Monday of October as Blue Shirt Day as part of a worldwide day of bullying prevention. At H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, since Monday was a holiday, Wednesday, October 5 was designated as Blue Shirt Day. It doesn’t really matter what day you wear your blue shirt or if you even wear one at all; what does matter is bullying awareness and prevention.

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Bullying can be an isolating experience. Certainly that is part of the problem; the feeling that no one else is experiencing this. The feeling that you are alone and that no one else could possibly understand. If you were bullied as a child, didn’t you feel that way? As for myself, I can remember being taunted on a regular basis one winter by a boy in elementary school. This was around 40 years ago, yet the memory is still vivid. Proof enough that words can have a lasting effect.

It is painfully obvious that bullying is still a major problem in our society. And I’m not just talking about in the school system; just take a look at our world. As defined by Wikipedia: “Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual.” How often do we see this in the news? How sad is it that many world leaders (and potential world leaders) resort to bullying tactics. What does it do? It certainly doesn’t make a great leader. It doesn’t change anyone’s mind or make a situation better. What purpose does it serve?

As young children, we are often told to “use our words.” Once we have an established vocabulary we should use our words carefully. Words have the power to help and heal; they also have the ability to scar and destroy. How often do you think before you speak? If you are like the majority of the population, the answer is probably not often enough. How can we expect our children to use their words carefully when we do not do the same?

We want the best for our children, but in order to do that, we need to take a close look at what we say and do. It doesn’t matter how old they or we are. To create a world without bullying (or at least with less bullying) we need to look at our own actions and our own words. We need to speak and act with care. It’s not possible to do all the time. How could it be? We are, after all human. But it IS possible to do more often. And it IS possible to recognize when we don’t speak or act with care and to apologize.

How do children become bullies? They learn from us. It’s a hard fact to face, but it’s true.

If we want our children to be kind and compassionate, then we need to be kind and compassionate. We need to walk the walk and talk the talk. We need to speak and act as want future generations to do. If we want to prevent bullying, we all need to speak with compassion and act with care. It may not eradicate the problem, but it may lessen it. Any steps that we can take to that end, can lead us into a better future.

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Beth Shorten
Beth Shortenhttp://bfthsboringblog.blogspot.com
Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona from a long line of life-long Verona residents. She chronicles life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog. 

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