“Does this darkness have a name? This cruelty, this hatred, how did it find us? Did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it? What happened to us that we now send our children into the world like we send young men to war, hoping for their safe return, but knowing that some would be lost along the way. When did we lose our way? Consumed by the shadows. Swallowed whole by the darkness. Does this darkness have a name? Is it your name?”
As I sit here, analyzing my final paper on the effect of bullying for a class that, for two years, I’ve sat in with glazed eyes and a distracted mind, I am reminded of this quote which both convicts and drives me. A quote which I would like to unpack for you now.
“Does this darkness have a name? This cruelty, this hatred, how did it find us? Did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it? …”
Every day we are faced with a choice, or better yet, choices, because the number of choices we face daily are more than one. For example: “Do I do my work as I should and get praise? Or should I skip it and risk the consequences.” “Do I exercise and feel fit, or should I stay on the couch instead.” How about, “Do I talk to this person, or about this person?” We are constantly faced with the decision to either build each other up or tear each other down. Sometimes we make a conscious choice, other times it is made for us by our peers, in which case our mere presence determines our choice. Either way we are taking part in something that is much greater than us. When we laugh at what other people are proud of or destroy what others have created, we are contributing to a problem that embodies the very darkness, the cruelty and hatred, which we swore as children to avoid.
“… What happened to us that we now send our children into the world like we send young men to war, hoping for their safe return, but knowing that some would be lost along the way …”
The CDC has deemed bullying to be closely related to suicidal tendencies in children and young adults (CDC, p.15). One in three students have reported instances of being bullied, and that isn’t counting those who suffer in silence, which constitutes the other 64% of students (National Bullying Prevention Center, p.1). Young people who have been bullied make up to half of suicides of their age group (Bullying Statistics, p.3). If we are noticing these patterns, these correlations in bullying, why are we not actively trying to stop the problem? When did middle school and high school become something to survive rather than to enjoy?
“… When did we lose our way? Consumed by the shadows. Swallowed whole by the darkness …”
When we judge and ostracize and torment people, what are we really doing? Are we trying to make ourselves feel better? Are we just bored? Why must our entertainment come at the expense of others? It isn’t right that those who succeed in life are now the ones who are wiling to gossip and back-stab. When did justice and honesty become a thing of the past, obsolete and outdated? When did we start to stray? We certainly weren’t taught to hate, not by any reasonable parents at least. Why then are we so hostile to that which differs from what we perceive to be the norm? Not only when, but what caused us to lose our way, and why?
“… Does this darkness have a name? Is it your name?”
What do we, as a population, say about something as horrendous as relentless emotional pain and as torturous as public humiliation? “It’s a phase” “It’s a rite of passage” “You’ll grow out of it” How sad is it that kids all across America, age 12-18, face intense and outrageous bullying on a daily basis and it is only granted the headline spot when the victim decides to do something about it? Why does the media care more about Miley Cyrus’ new hairstyle over our children’s suffering? When did the next paycheck become more important than our youth’s wellbeing? Neglect is bullying. Neglect brings pain. Ignorance is not bliss. Not helping is a negative contribution in itself.
Do not hear the wrong message. If you are being bullied and are reading this, reach out to someone, someone close to you, someone who can help. Do not do something that one day you will regret; there are better ways to get the message of bullying awareness out. Parents are more willing to do something about bullying if they are informed of its presence and aware that the problem exists. The pain you are feeling will end. A new day approaches. Trust me, I have been where you have been.
So what are you doing to stop bullying? To stop the torment? Or better yet, what aren’t you doing?
“Does this darkness have a name?”
“Is it your name?”