Showing posts with label bullying. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bullying. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mind Games: Educating Bullies


                  I believe it was 1996 when the freeway was in the process of a new makeover as Utah would be holding the winter Olympics in 2002 and the city needed to get ready for the mass transportation that would be involved.
            I was working downtown and had chosen to ride the bus to my destination.  Often I would catch a bus which ran along State Street, but every once in a while I managed to catch the one that went by way of the freeway.  Either way I had my nose in a book during the ride.

            I recall one day in particular I was reading the autobiography of a World War II survivor from Poland.  He was only a boy when the invasion started and described the horrific scenery – which to him was not so horrific - as he thought the dirt pits and piles and military transportation vehicles offered some sense of adventure – only he learned that the “adventure” was grotesque and inhumane and not at all what he had set out for.

            As I was reading the book, I happened to glance out the window.  My mouth dropped as I looked at the dirt piles and holes in the freeway – like the rubble that had been described in the book.  But instead of German vehicles, there were yellow caterpillars – no soldiers, (but no construction workers either).  It was actually kind of eerie.



            I hate Hitler.  I hate the very thought of all the tragedy, all the crime, all the needless punishment.  I have no Christ-like compassion for Adolph Hitler – perhaps a few of his followers.  There was so much brain washing and fear.  There are not enough words in my vocabulary to describe all the hatred and anger and remorse that I feel each time I read or watch or discuss anything related to all that senseless political crime.  So why do I continue?  I admire the strength of the survivors who stayed true to themselves – who pass on their stories and experiences.  I would hope that we may take into our hearts their pain and their experiences and learn and NEVER EVER repeat that piece of history. (But then perhaps we already are – or perhaps it already exists)

 
            There are so many accounts from children who were sent to live in the United Kingdom – a means of protecting them – or trying to.  Some were sent to good homes.  Others were not so fortunate.  Some became slaves to those that had been forced to or agreed to take them in.  Some were able to reunite with their real families – or at least some family members.  Many more were not.


            Currently I am reading a piece of historic fiction, “Someone Named Eva” by Joan M. Wolf.  She introduces a part of history I hadn’t learned before.  Girls with blonde hair and light colored-eyes were considered the “elite” and regardless of whether they had been born in Poland or Czechoslovakia, they were “stolen” and forced to take upon a new identity and become the Aryan – the best of the German girls. 

            I am horrified at the events that took place.  In 1942 the Nazis (or Gestapo) went into the homes and ordered al l family members to leave.  They were given only a few minutes to pack.  I have read so many accounts of being allowed to pack.  For what purpose?  Their possessions were confiscated almost immediately.  Almost everything they had was taken away.  Some were able to hang on to their identity.  Many others were not.  They were caught up in Hitler Youth or the Gestapo or the Brown House or whatever – saying “Heil Hitler” first out of fear and then out of habit.  Brainwashed.  Becoming numb. Saying but not feeling.

            Some were actually so caught up in it, they willingly accepted the harshness to be a part of their lifestyle (if you can indeed call it living) to become great bullies themselves.  To actually support the cause.  To praise evil.

            The girls in this story were “stolen”.  Two had been removed from Lidice along with their families.  And then they separated.  The men were taken in one direction and children with mothers and then separated again.  Milada and Ruzha were put on a bus that took them across the border into Poland.  They didn’t know why.  They didn’t speak German.

            Another bus carried twelve girls.  They didn’t speak Czech.  They didn’t speak German either.  Finally a pretty woman translated for all fourteen girls.  It was the one and only time that she would ever translate, for they were forbidden to speak in their native tongue.  German would be their new tongue.  They’d be accepted as German girls.

            Each morning they were expected to give the “Heil Hitler” salute to a poster.  Once they learned the German language they’d be introduced to German history and mathematics.  The youngest one (Heidi) was having too hard of a time keeping up.  She spoke in another tongue and was whipped for it.  Sometime later she disappeared.  When Heidi’s sister gave up on the German education, she too disappeared. 

            Whether or not their whereabouts had been explained to the other girls wouldn’t have made a difference.  They had fed them so many lies that it was hard to know what was truth.  Ruzha (whose name had been changed to Franziska) had hardened her heart.  She was a bully and worked hard at getting the approval of the adult bullies. 

            Milada worked just as hard to separate what she’d been taught from who she wanted to be – NOT a Nazi.  She was ashamed when people thought she was.  But that’s what the Aryan wanted.  And when the war was over, couples from all over Germany were called in to “adopt” the girls.

            So now Milada (who is called Eva) is in a fancy house with a new brother and sister and mom and dad.  All blonds.  All beautiful.  Her description of a horrible smell reminds me of the horrific smell described in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” – a discovery that makes me cringe and cry and stirs up all these emotions of pain and dismay. How could so many people have let things get out of hand the way they did?
 

Milada remembers her own family.  And that is where I am in the book.  

Survivors allow emotion.  Bullies forget emotion. I must be a survivor. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another Baptism, Another Discovery


      
            We went to a primary baptism on Saturday.  I was surprised to see Azure’s dad dressed in white. According to Hannah, her husband had been inactive for eight years.  Evidently Azure had talked him into coming back so that he could baptize him – which he did. 

            The baptism was a lot more reverent than the last primary baptism Jenna and I had attended.  Roland actually went with us to this one. There was still the visiting between the confirmation and the baptism though everyone seemed to be more respectful and non visiting the two times we had waited in the chapel.  I don’t know why the visitation bothers me so much, but it does. 

            Jenna had brought along an activity book to keep herself entertained.  I didn’t think that was all that respectful either – especially when she took the program and drew a tic-tac-toe while the bishop was speaking and nudged me to take a turn.  I gave her a hard crusty which I’m certain was not in harmony with the Spirit either. 



            The activity she had was from the story about Saul/Paul.  She said it was one of her favorites and said she wanted to watch the video but I told her I didn’t think we had it.  She was actually looking for the video of Alma’s conversion and accounted the story which she wanted to watch.  She was thinking that was the activity book she held.  I hadn’t even given a thought until then how many similarities both Paul and Alma shared.



            Both were bullies who seemed to be involved in gang related activity.  Though Alma appears more as the ring leader (Mosiah 27:8) while Paul appears more to be one that is taking orders from the leader (Acts 9:2).  Both Alma and Paul persecute the righteous (Mosiah 27:10, Acts 8:3 ).  Paul is left blind after Christ calls to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:8) while Alma is left in an almost comatose state (Alma27:19) after having have seen an angel.  Both are called to repentance (Mosiah 27:24, Acts 9:6) and completely turn their lives around and become heavily involved in missionary work (Mosiah 27:32, Acts 9: ).  Both are persecuted for their beliefs.

          After Azure's baptism and confirmation, Hannah had all those who were seated to please stay for pictures.  A few pictures were taken of the entire group (everyone in attendance)  What a great idea!  Wish I had thought of it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Reflection about the past and Present



          If I can’t get interested in a movie in the first twenty minutes or a novel within the first ten pages, I usually don’t continue.  That may not seem like I am giving a fair chance – maybe so.  But it’s something I have decided not to gamble on – usually. 

`        There have been too many movies and even more books read where I have sat through its entirety and am quite upset with myself for having wasted my time.  That is why I usually don’t go beyond twenty minutes or ten pages.  But sometimes I do.

          “that’s what I am” was actually kind of a slow movie – one I watched in parts because of several interruptions.  I don’t know if I would have continued otherwise – though I was somewhat intrigued by the narration by Greg Kinnear – it reminded me of Jean Shepherd’s “The Christmas Story” or “Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of a Bliss” or Jim Carrey as the Adult Joe Wenteworth in “Simon Birch”

I don’t ever remember seeing any advertisements or even heard of “that’s what I am”.  Evidently it came out just over a year ago – must have gone straight to DVD.  I’m thinking it may not have done well at the box office.  But what do I know?




“that’s what I am” is a coming of age story set in 1965.  But there is more to it than the character of Andy Nichol (the character who narrates the story.)  Observations were made about the supporting characters of Andy’s world.

There is bullying against “the geeks” weeded out mostly on looks.  Stanley is a tall boy with red hair.  They call him “Big G” – G stands for ginger, an unkind word associated with red hair.  I don’t see it so much now as I did as a youth.  Many redheaded kids I had known were either shy or rebellious and often treated like outcasts – I think that’s stupid!

Stanley is smart – very smart.  Mr. Simon is the science teacher (or is it social studies?  I suppose it doesn’t really matter) that pairs Stanley and Andy together to complete an assignment (also hated that; grade me on my own merits, not an assigned partner) and Andy can’t seem to get together with Stanley except at lunch – but Stanley has lunch where the geeks are.  

They have been shunned to a lower class by the rest of the school – and if Andy were to cross the line – well, people might think that he’s a geek, too.  But Stanley won’t give up to doing assignments before or after school – Andy’s option is to be seen with Big G or just let Big G do all the work – easy grade, right. 

When a girl gets bullied (I’m guessing sexually – though they didn’t really show it) Mr. Simons takes action and the bully is suspended.  And so he starts an unkind rumor about Mr. Simons that threatens to put his job in jeopardy if he doesn’t deny the rumor.

It’s an unfair thing for this bully’s accusations to cause sparks to fly – to question the integrity of this man who has taught for many years and brought under investigation because of some bad mouth bully whom the principal doesn’t necessarily believe – but still – he has made an accusation nevertheless and the matter needs to be looked into.

Mr. Simon could easily deny the rumor – whether true or false – and there would be no investigation – but he chooses instead not to answer at all – which of course in grounds for dismissal –

Perhaps in 1965 the denial would have been good enough. But today there has to be an investigation, a suspension, a probation – and some of these accusations turn out to be true while others are just months and years of dragging ones good name through the mud so that the rumor is the only thing remembered and the fact that there is no truth to whatever rumor was started seems irrelevant – which is too bad.

Roland’s ex-wife has made false accusations about everyone she’s known, I imagine.  It’s a sickness on her part.  After a while she believes her own lies.  She won’t let up for anything.




Roland and I were not sealed in the temple until three years after we had married.  His membership was in jeopardy – not once – but several times at her wicked hands. She obviously doesn't know that Roland is in the bishopric or else she would do everything in her power to tarnish his good name and present position.

I know that there have been many who have lost their careers due to scandal – whether in the armed services, law enforcement, education, and what have you.  It happens.  There are those who have had to face up to their wrong doings and there are some who have basically had to start over because of the tarnished mishaps that often seem to haunt them.  Some move on with regret – others choose to move on and make the best of it (if that is even possible).

There are some people who are sour grapes and will remain that way no matter what.  I recall once being on a cruise line in which one particular couple would complain about their purser – giving him a bad rating – which of course would come up for investigation.  Each group of people who happened to have the same purser made it a point to complain about the couple and defend the purser.  I don’t know what the results were.  I hope the cruise line realized that the problem was with the couple and not the purser.

          I think the things I enjoyed most about “that’s what I am” happen at the finale, after the bully receives what’s coming to him.  And Mr. Simon went out with a blaze of glory.  But the best was at the very end – because there really is more than one correct way to mow a lawn.  It would be so nice if everybody could see that.  If it’s getting done, don’t harp on how it needs to be done.  Who decides what makes something politically correct anyway?