It’s a shame that I must even associate the word forgotten to the senselessly persistent tragedy of school shootings, yet on February 27, 2012 at Chardon High School in Ohio, T.J. Lane killed three students and seriously maimed a fourth. Following that often forgotten shooting, I submitted a letter to the Quad City Times that was published on March 11, 2012 which will shortly comprise the essence of this initial article.
Why choose bullying and write about it at the university level? For several reasons that will become apparent but primarily because bullying to use another odd association rests heavily upon this author’s soul. We all graduated high school or our national equivalent where I wager few of us escaped unscathed. For all of our efforts to stay this tenacious contagion, it persists beyond grade school into university and most unfortunately beyond these halls and corporate world into the very social discourse we value so highly as Americans whose seed blossoms that same poison fruit. A fruit now so intensified in our xenophobic and demagogic presidential election cycle.
Now that Star Wars once again dominates our national culture, quoting Yoda no longer feels nerdy. As paraphrased from The Phantom Menace, fear leads to anger, hate, and suffering. Fear both prompts and results from bullying and when fully manifested through hatred all that remains is suffering. It was that disturbingly recognizable hatred by T.J Lane that drove the impetus behind this letter to young kids.
“It was the first day of third grade when a girl verbally expressed her disgust at having to attend the same class as me, and all the way through high school I had to endure the bullies behind me in band flicking my ears.
I was bullied and ostracized consistently from elementary school through graduation at Pleasant Valley, and I fantasized all the time about taking my revenge. On Feb. 27 America suffered another heartbreak when T.J. Lane became the latest student to express his hatred upon his classmates. While family and friends grieve their lost loved ones including the shooter, let’s not forget that for every T.J., many more suffer in identical circumstances. That was me, and while modern society would have one never admit to weakness, where else can one find healing?
Kids, if you suffer from bullying, loneliness or depression please understand that life will improve; it may take time, and it may be hard, but by living through it you can not only survive but also succeed. We all wish there was a secret wave of the wand to surviving bullies, solitude and hatred, but there isn’t. It takes strength and patience. Talk to your parents, teachers, friends and even God; let someone know your desperation. You may feel hated, but remember from another young man named Rudyard Kipling: don’t let being hated give way to hating.”