As I wrote this, I was angry, sad, and utterly disappointed in humanity, but as the Lorax said before me, “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
For as long as I can recall, I have seen bullying, been bullied, and unfortunately, I have probably bullied someone myself. My intentions never involve purposefully hurting others, but no one is perfect, and I will not say I am. But this story is not about me. It is about someone I do not know personally, but felt emphatically and sympathetically attached to once this entire story developed.
He was sitting in the dining hall eating lunch, minding his own business from the looks of it. As he began to lift his silverware to his mouth, a tremor presented itself which made even the smallest tasks difficult. Honestly, I didn’t even notice him among the many other people in the dining hall, but everyone at my table did. They started to make gestures of tremors themselves as they lifted their silverware, completely denying the fact that this action was absolutely and unbelievably unprovoked. They made jokes, rude comments, and even tried to rationalize his behavior.
Immediately I felt disgust, not just for the situation, but the fact that I was sitting among the people who truly had no regard for the person’s situation or empathy for what he may be going through. I couldn’t just sit there. I had to speak.
Me: “Why are we, as a table, purposefully making fun of him? Is there a reason?”
Table: “No, but he is making that really funny gesture!! Look at him.. HAHAH”
Me: “Did you consider maybe he cannot control it? Maybe he is going through a hard time or has a disability? Maybe he is nervous and having a panic attack? Maybe he has an injury?”
Table: “No! He is definitely nervous, and it is so funny, how could he be that nervous eating lunch!”
Me: “Regardless of his situation, there is no reason to make fun of him and bully him. I don’t think I understand your perspective and therefore I must go elsewhere. Everyone is different, everyone fights different issues and I don’t think anyone at this table would appreciate if that over there was you and everyone made fun of you.”
I proceeded to leave and find my own area. I couldn’t be a part of such a disaster. Even now, hours later, I am still upset about how this could happen. But then I started to think about it and seriously ponder how people in general dissect situations in their lives, how we could possible learn from this and how to remind ourselves about judgement and the bystander effect to avoid future trouble.
There are many famous quotes that deal with situations such as this one (I’ll list a few):
“Don’t judge people. You never know what kind of battle they are fighting”. Even my closest family members, my friends, my co-workers have no idea what goes on in my mind and in turn, I do not know their minds. They may be familiar with HOW I would act, but they do not know my true thoughts/struggles. Realize this, give people an empathetic view, and work with them towards a positive life, not a frustrating one.
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”. The Bystander Effect will destroy people, and already has. Be different, act with compassion, understand that no one is the same as you and may act/perceive/understand completely different ideals and morals. Their moral compass is not under your control, but your compass is directly guided by you. Instead of watching, ACT!
“Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are”. When someone judges you, it is not about you. It is about them and their insecurities. The more I hear judgement, the more I see weakness. End of story.
Be the best person you can be and admit when you are wrong. Put yourself in others’ situations because you never know when you will be there yourself. Find people in life that share your spirit for happiness and your desire for peace. Find people who challenge your ideas/morals and do not even try to change them. Learn from those that are different and you will see, change comes not from aggression or force, but by allowing them the freedom to realize their own faults. Be someone’s rock even if they have stepped on you a thousand times. Carry the pain of someone for minutes, not days, 1 minute of empathy will go a long way. Trust that you can stand up for what is right. Trust that you are strong. Because, guess what, you are.
And finally, remember to cry until you laugh and laugh until you cry, because this life is too short for anything else.
-Happiness in Handfulls