Advice Friday, a day I typically devote to responding to your style and shopping questions on Facebook.
Today, however, I am really struggling with what to say! This isn’t about who I voted for – you don’t know, so please don’t assume. No, my sorrow today is not over who won or who lost…
It’s about pain.
It’s about division.
It’s about half of our nation wondering if they should feel afraid of the other half.
But mostly, it’s about bullying.
Many of you who are close to me know about my son, who is one of my biggest heroes in this world. He spent the first half of his life in doctors’ offices and therapy sessions, working to navigate the cards that have been dealt to him in this unpredictable world. (You can read more about his story here, if you’d like.)
When my son was in 4th grade, that’s when the bullying began. Apparently 9 or 10 is the age for many kids, when they stop seeing other children as just friends, and start deciding which groups or cliques they identify with. One attention-needing kid identified my son as different, and they all ran with it. Day after day, he suffered, while I fought to understand what was happening to my child (who wasn’t able to communicate it very well), and then fought his own school teachers and principal to make it stop.
I’ll never forget the day it all came to a halt. The day the blood froze in my veins and my world stopped spinning. We were driving home from school, after a long and unproductive meeting where his principal had flat-out told me “maybe his version of processing the world is causing him to imagine he’s being bullied, because the kids in my school wouldn’t act this way.”
From the back seat, my son said, “Mommy, what are the least painful ways to die? Because I think I would like to just go to Heaven now.”
I couldn’t breathe, but pulled over and turned around as quickly as I could manage. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. And mine. My 9-year-old child wanted to die, because of how other kids, his own friends – in fact, one of his best friends – were treating him.
We never went back to that school.
This week, I have worked hard to maintain a positive attitude and deeply-rooted belief that things will always turn out the way they are supposed to, and God is with us through it all. But the news reports of children chanting “send them home” to their own classmates – who were their friends just 48 hours before! – has me weeping. Stories of hate crimes, and Muslim women being attacked because their head coverings make them easy targets, and apparently the KKK is throwing a parade…
My friends, I am floored by this all! And honestly, I’m a little angry. Not angry at politics, because they are part of our American system and we all know the rules. No, I am angry at bullies!
So today, instead of my usual fashion post, I’m choosing something different than what I see in my news feed, on TV, and the internet.
I am choosing to be exactly the same person I was before this week ever happened.
I will wear a safety pin on my shirt, and make this pledge:
As before, I will respect every person in my community who has come here from another country, seeking the chance to build a new life for yourself. Whatever reason brought you here, you are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect every person who has a religious belief that’s different than mine. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect my very dear LGBTQ friends and family members. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect those who have different political views than I do, and their right to them. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect my friends, family members, neighbors, and everyone I meet whose skin or DNA makeup is a different shade than mine. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect all women, of all ages and sizes and ethnicities, and will not judge you on appearance, clothing, beauty, color, or your decision to wear either a burka or bikini any darn place you please. You are equal and I love you.
As before, I will respect all people of disability, special need, or medical challenge, visible or invisible. You are equal and I love you.
This is my promise, because I can not change how others feel, but I can be responsible for my own actions and thoughts.
Furthermore, if I have judged, internally or out loud, any of the people listed above, I want you to know that I AM SORRY. I repent, and ask your forgiveness, because acknowledging it is what helps us change, and be better. I’m not perfect, so tell me if I say or do something something judgy! Hold me accountable, because that’s not the person I want to be!
I also promise that I will not be a silent onlooker, if I see judgement, bullying, racism, sexism, or harassment occur around me! That’s harder, because I’m a woman and I know what it’s like to fear bullies, too. But every time I see someone picking on a fellow human being in this great nation, or any other, I will step in and make a stand. (This article has great tips for how to intervene when you see bullying: https://sojo.net/articles/what-do-if-you-see-islamophobic-harrassment)
Because it only takes one person to change the course of another’s hate. One person could have stood up for my son, and his entire childhood would have been different.
I could not be there in the moment, to be that one for my little boy, and I will always regret it… But I promise. If I am there and I see it, I will be that person for you.
Please do the same for me, and I will cling to the hope that we will all be ok.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤