Compassion is Not a Doormat

Recently on a normal school day bus ride home one of my granddaughters experienced verbal bullying and intimidation with inappropriate touching. This bright 13 year old is not easily intimidated and although she was distressed and offended by the experience she stood her ground in the moment. When we heard about it we were outraged.

The police came to the house to file our report. A complaint has been filed with the school. The bus driver will be spoken to. Parents are being talked with. Something is being done. The next child that is bullied may not be able to fight back. We have to fight back for them.

What strikes me about this situation is that a child can experience this at the hands of another child and how both are wounded in the process. My granddaughter was the victim and yet she is the victor because she has a support system that validates her value and champions her growth as a quality human being. We have come to know that the offending boy has quite the opposite.

It’s a long story that has a still unfolding ending. To the surprise of all concerned (including the policeman) the parents of the boy and the boy came to our home to apologize.

It’s a conversation impossible to repeat complete with no actual apology. In the end the parents and the boy got the message this would never happen again. As the boy turned to walk back to their car my granddaughter spontaneously stepped down the stairs and hugged him. He did not lift his head as he continued to walk away ~ tears streamed down his face. My son’s parting words were, “Now go be who you really want to be.”

So if anyone feels like they are not doing enough or being a positive contribution, know that it is the small moments that make a difference. It is enough to reach out, to champion a child to be a contribution instead of a liability, to let your offender know that while you will not ignore his offense you see something greater than he may see himself.  It is enough to not cause harm to another and it is important to speak up and not allow harm.

Already a close family somehow this event made us closer. The girls know we have their backs; that we will do all possible to protect them. When something we cannot control happens we do our best to right it; something will be done about it in the wisest manner we know in that moment.

Our family learned a lot from this experience; it seems a good lesson for all of us. Stand up. Speak up ~ for yourself and others. Kindness and compassion do not mean being a doormat; it does not mean not standing up for yourself or allowing a hurtful situation to go unchecked.

May We All Walk in Beauty.

In Germany, first they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.”  Friedrich W. Nietzsche (1844-1900) German Philosopher and Poet

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