For boys and girls standing on ledges
by Hollye Dexter
There are times in all our lives when fear becomes so much bigger than love or hope, it’s all we can feel. For most of us, we can eventually pull ourselves out of this state, or we are surrounded with enough love and support to keep us from going under. But some can’t get out from under the heavy burden of fear and shame. This, I believe, is the diseased state that creates both victims, and bullies.
My brother was bullied as a teen, simply for being who he was, a young gay man. It caused him to drop out of school. I can’t for the life of me understand this form of bigotry, and can only surmise that it’s ignorance at its most elevated form, because everyone who knows my brother Ted loves him. But oh… we lowly humans. It is our caveman nature to fear what we don’t understand, and to hate what we fear. Fear spreads the hate that drives people to ledges.
I was once one of those girls, standing on a ledge. More than once, actually.
I think for some of us, we grew up with a feeling that we weren’t supposed to be here. When we began to believe, or were told, that something was defective in us, it started a hairline fracture right through the foundation of who we were. We could spend our lives trying to belong but all it takes is one act of cruelty to break us wide open. Those of us with the defective foundations… we’re like the weak gazelle in the herd. Easy prey for hateful people, because we accept the hatred they project onto us. We believe in it, even feel we deserve it. I was lucky, in that there was always one random person who showed up and lifted me back to my feet with love and kindness. That’s what saved me.
But when you’re young, you don’t yet know that this is only a chapter. You can’t imagine all the beauty that lies ahead, how strong you will be one day. You don’t yet understand that the hate projected onto you is only a bully’s own self-hatred projected outward, that it really has nothing to do with you.
Bullying is fear squared. Fear spreads fear spreads fear. This is a crazy time in the world. Bigotry and racism, political rage, road rage and just plain rage are all around us. We fear we are losing control, which creates more fear. Fear is what makes us hateful and cruel and destructive. FEAR is what destroys our souls. We have to rise above this, and teach our young people to do the same. This cycle of fear has got to stop.
Where to begin? We can’t change others, but we can start the change in our own hearts. Starting with myself, I will be a voice of tolerance. And in my own heart, I vow to replace fear with love.
REPLACE FEAR WITH LOVE.
Be the antidote. Even if we can’t lead a revolution or stand on a pulpit, we can stand for love in our own home. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that matter. We can all reach out, make a phone call, offer a smile, do something kind for someone today. You never know – your hand reaching out could be the one that just pulled someone in from a ledge.
I envision a world where we all coexist peacefully, a world where my brothers are safe, a world where there are no boys and girls standing on ledges.
It’s not so far fetched. This is a very possible reality.
FEAR cannot exist where LOVE resides.
Please. Spread the word.
The word is LOVE.