“You’re here to defend the defenseless, to make sure that underdogs get a fair break”
Jamey Rodemeyer… 14 years old Buffalo, NY
Tyler Clementi… 18 years old Rutgers University
Phoebe Prince… 15 years old Massachusetts
These are the names of just three students from 2010-2011 that have ended their lives because of relentless harassment and bigotry. There have been many others in the last few years. Often the hateful verbage was ignored by teachers and administrators, or written off as youthful indiscretions. But at the end of the day young people were dead.
I know all to well the pain and humiliation and utter loathing one has for oneself being the brunt of vile words. I lived with my humanity and worth being castrated every day for more than 6 years when I was in school. The “harmless” bullying affected me well into my thirties, and to a much lesser extent still affects me today at 52.
But that was over thirty years ago. You would think at this point in time the issue of bullying would have been addressed, That laws and penalties would have been put in place to protect vulnerable youth. But that is not the case. So day you have more and more young people taking their lives because of hate and bullying. Why is this still happening?
The blame for this lies squarely on the shoulders of several individuals, and groups of individuals.
It lies on the shoulders of school administrations and teachers “too busy” to care about the lost child in the corner of the classroom, and in the impotence of so many bullying policies that are created more for show than for action.
The blame also lies on the parents of the bullies themselves. Parents teach their children by their actions, words, and attitudes toward others. If parents degrade the poor, the marginalized, and others “not like themselves” their children will too. If parents carry around an air of superiority over other people groups their children will too.
Some of the blame lies within the culture itself that sets standards and expectations for those within it and when one does not conform to the “norm” they are demonized and rejected as weird, strange, crazy.
And some of the blame lies on the pulpits and pews of the evangelical churches. We have a tendency to mock and put down and vilify those outside of our church walls. We teach our children, not to love unconditionally as Christ loved us but to look down a girl wearing tight clothes and the boy who likes to play with dolls. We too create bullies.
But there is something else that is of great distress to me. We as Evangelicals want to be seen as a group of people concerned with protecting human life. We have organized large organization and spent billions of dollars seeking to protect the life of the unborn. But I think that there is much more to being pro-life than that. Where have the Evangelical churches been in protesting and picketing, letter writing and pulpit preaching against bullying and the need to pass legislation that makes bullying and hate a crime? Why have we not spoken up? And why do we, in some cases, work against such laws? We are supposed to be a voice for those who have none and to see that they are treated fairly and justly.
Why are we silent?