Wednesday, December 29

Bullying

For me there was one societal theme that rang consistently true this year, loud and clear: Bullying. 2010 was the year that we acknowledged the bully and fought back.

I guess it was the sequence of teenage suicides ... young gay teenagers who had been bullied to the point of wanting out, teased and taunted to the point of suicide that did it ... got us all to realize that it's not ok to bully and it's certainly not ok to be bullied.

It's not like this was the first year we noticed it. We have been seeing high profile stories year after year of high school bullying, cyber-bullying, adult bullying, the whole gamut. Let's face it, I'm sure each of us has experienced it to some extent and probably we've all done a little bit of it here and there as well. If we can recognize it and admit to it.

Dan Savage and Terry Miller, however, brought it to life. In what turned into a domino of home video sequences, they created "it gets better" ... a website with documented messages where Dan, Terry and thousands of others tell young gay people to hang in there. While they may be experiencing hard times right now, feeling abused and isolated, life certainly does get better.

Dan and Terry told of their own struggle with bullying and of coming out, and about how as adults they are in such a better place. It got better for them, and it will get better for you.

What a brilliant message ... for everyone.

And then the celebrities kicked into gear, which in our culture always brings a lot of attention to an issue. Obama, Keisha, Ann Hathaway, Suze Orman, Andy Cohen, Nancy Pelosi, Maroon 5 .. are just a few posted videos. The most impactful are the ones where people actually "come out", and tell of their own story of wanting to commit suicide and check out of their existence. But they hung in there and it got better.

Perhaps one of the most stirring was the video from a Fort Worth city councilman (Joel Burns) who took time out of a city council meeting to tell teenagers that "it gets better."

And then there was that scene in Glee, the television show, where fiction mirrors reality. The scene was shocking, at least for me, because someone finally stood up to their aggressor and got a little slice of life. My one thought after seeing that scene? It gets better!

Not to make light of it, and this is on a totally different scale, but even Kelly Bensimon from The Real Housewives of New York thinks she was bullied this year. She even did a PSA about it. The point being that she feels bullied, whether or not it is true doesn't really matter.

The message from 2010 is loud and clear, and not just for gay teens. For all of us regardless of age or lot in life. We've all seen bullying in action, whether with "friends", co-workers, family ... at all stages of our lives. We can relate to this message and hopefully it gets us to stop and think. Think about how we treat others, and also about how we want to be treated. Think about where the bullying is coming from and get it to stop.

Think about how we want to spend our time in 2011.

What's your experience? Jim.

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