In the spirit of the Bullying Summit taking place in Vancouver today, here are a few questions one might pose that are a shift off of the more common “are you or have you ever been bullied?” question.
* Were you ever isolated, ignored, treated like or told that you were weird and or “different” when you were in school?
* How did this make you feel? How did you react? How did others react? Did anyone support you? What did your friends and family members say to you about this treatment?
* What were the long term effects of this treatment?
* Was this treatment done face-to-face or behind your back?
* Were you told privately or was this information shared in front of other people/shared with other people?
The McCartney quote is a fine reminder that an intolerant attitude regarding how one person is different from another can lead to bullying. “You’re weird” statements can quickly develop into taunting, isolation and more serious forms of bullying. This type of intolerance can also lead to division in social and public circles that can continue into the adult years. If you have ever been “unfriended” on Facebook because someone, for example, didn’t like the status update you shared about a political topic, lifestyle choice or world view, you will have felt the sting of intolerance and a lack of appreciation of diverse viewpoints first hand.
Yet isn’t it people like Paul McCartney who dare to step out and BE different? In the face of possible criticism and rejection they break the mold of how they’re supposed to be (read “like everyone else)” and forge their own path. If being your own unique self is a bad and undesirable option, then it could be argued that “you’re weird” or “different” statements, and related social pressures to conform or disappear, are attempts to squash creative self expression and individualism. Which path did you choose?
The words that Paul McCartney is purported to have said can be used to support efforts to honour others who are or were troubled – often seriously – by this treatment and these judgements. If you wish you can copy the image above and use it as your Facebook profile photo or place it somewhere else on Social Media.
We can work together in small and large ways – at summits and in our personal modeling and conversations – to encourage youth, and the adults in our midst, to dare to be the people they want to be.
Let’s build a society where we truly embrace diversity and the dimension that it creates in our communities.
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Creative Brave Courageous and Free – a BC artist’s experiences related to this topic.
Divided We Fall (Commentary by Rex Murphy, CBC)