Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Expecting More of Each Other

Life is funny.  Sometimes you meet the most interesting people in the most random ways. A few months ago, I was helping my friend Gary Russo (a.k.a. Second Avenue Sinatra) with organizing a singing appearance at a fundraiser in  Texas.  The Westlake Academy UNICEF President, Qaleb Pillai, reached out to Gary to ask him to help with the annual event.  Without ever meeting Qaleb, Gary, an ironworker and entertainer, said yes to donating his travel, time and talents.  As Qaleb and I were emailing back and forth, I noticed the quote that was always attached to his signature. 

"It seems to me that more and more, we've come to expect less and lessof each other, and I think that should change." - Aaron Sorkin

I asked him why he felt that quote was so important:
Aaron Sorkin is one of my favorite screenwriters and he is the man that said this quote. I choose to share this in every email I send because I think it’s an important problem that in society that needs to be addressed. I feel that society has allowed people to become more selfish and lazy. 
I believe that many people will only help others if there is something in it for them. In other words, a person will only help another for personal gain. I don’t feel that this is right because I do not want to live in a world where it’s uncommon to help others out of kindness. I am aware that there will most likely always be personal gain and that nothing can be truly altruistic, but a person should not do something like giving to charity just to get attention. He or she should do it because it is the right thing to do and the attention is just a bonus. 
The mindset of doing things solely for personal gain leads to nothing being accomplished. As president of my school’s UNICEF club, this is unacceptable.  Knowing that others are stepping back is motivation to keep stepping in.  We can't all step back or there will never be any progress.  I know and feel it’s important to help those who are less fortunate. By doing so, a person shows he/she is trying to be altruistic and is aware of the fortunate life he/she was born into. 
Due to the selfishness and laziness, we have come to expect “less and less” of each other because how much can you possibly expect from a selfish or lazy person? Not much at all. The bare minimum is nothing to aspire to.  
Why are kids being raised to celebrate mediocrity? They should reach for the stars because maybe then, they’ll do something to truly be proud of. Maybe that will pave the way to expecting more and more of each other rather than less and less." 
Interesting question from a 16 year-old leader.  Are kids being raised to be mediocre?

Let's raise leaders.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bullying, Forgiveness and a Little Summer Reflection

When someone hurts us or even worse, hurts our children, the anger can run deep.  Legitimately deep.

One of the knotted strings in the tangled ball of bullying is how our anger can eat us up.  It takes up our brain space and holds us back from anything positive.  The reality is, it's like being the target twice.  When you can't let it go, the resentment can have a negative life all its own.

Superstorm Sandy didn't bring many positives but it did bring me a new friend.  Maryann and her husband Ray are still trying to cope with rebuilding not only their home but their daughter's and Ray's brother's homes, as well.  In the midst of it all, they keep the local church (also damaged) going so that the community doesn't lose it's foundation, its rock.

Ironically, after many good discussions about tough transitions, Maryann saw that I needed as much help in coping with change as she did...and I still had my house.

She lent me T.D. Jakes book, Let It Go, and I stumbled upon some truly great advice.  I hope it helps you as much as it did me...

Similarly, when you allow someone else's reaction to determine your mood, you have built a room where you are helpless to control the climate.  When you forgive them and move on you bring the thermostat back into your room and you leave them in the hands of the conscience and their God!
 Of course you want to respond with grace to the repentant but the question begs an answer:  What do you do when the persons who caused you the most pain have not and will not admit, acknowledge, or repent for their part in your pain?  Simple answer, take the power back over your life and write it off.  Demanding that they make things right or have the quality of character to apologize also leaves them controlling the thermostat to a room you have to live in.

Mean people don't often apologize.  Ever.  That's why I think this is great advice for ourselves and a good lesson for our kids.  Sometimes people -- even if they've had a mean moment -- will say I'm sorry.  That's wonderful but others won't.  To expect that they will do the right thing will just fuel our rage even more and make the pain continue.

Something to ponder this hot summer:  Who's in charge of your thermostat?

It made me realize that some damage is more obvious than others and every house needs a "thermostat check" every now and then.

Maryann and Ray:  We're sending you good thoughts as you rebuild.