Tuesday, December 06, 2011


A long-time friend, a country grandpa, sent me the following video:


Of course, a straightforward appeal like this is impossible to resist, though just exactly what to do about it is unclear. I asked my friend if he knew what happened after the video went to YouTube and this is what he said:

In the follow up, he has received a lot of support and offerings of support. In just a very short time his video has hit over 3 million hits. You may want to peruse the site and the comments...a mixed bag of hostility and support...the kid, regardless, is hitting on some very key issues facing young people who do not fit the 'descriptions' of their hives.

As a kid, I was a bit of a loner. My Dad was an alcoholic, we were very poor and a family of 13, including Mom and Dad. My whole life at that young age was helping the family to survive. I checked my snares early every morning for breakfast, afternoons and evenings...and that was just one chore for survival. Any spare time, if I can call it that, was spent reading or doing homework by the lighting of a coal oil lamp...which I still have on top of my refrigerator. All of those factors added up to my oddness.

In addition, I was very small and quiet. I took some terrible teasing and some pretty bad physical insults. I was pretty strong but when they ganged up on me I was helpless. One time they dragged me up a pole and hooked me onto a peg by the back of my shirt and left me there. I never cried very much or reported any of the things that happened. Fortunately, on that occasion, my shirt was so worn out by previous owners, the cloth and collar gave out and I was able to fall to the ground. Ten feet is a long way down for a little runt kid.

The community I had originally been raised in was not like this. I had no experience for such behavior. However, by the time I reached about 13 and we were moved to an integrated school system, I knew how to take care of myself and the biggest bullies in the white school learned not to bother me. I was still a loner though. I spent most of my life self developing mentally, physically and spiritually but those days of incessant bullying have always remained a memory.

It is no longer painful but very sad our fellow human beings can entertain such atrocious behavior toward one another. At one point, I was about 10 yrs...the bullying put me in the hospital for two weeks. I still remember that person to this day and on recall and envision that happening. However, its not good to.

All of my children and grandchildren have taken training in martial arts. I did so for myself when I was 16 and I can guarantee you that in high school no one bothered me. I became the most enduring long distance runner, I was much too small for sprinting, and the top gymnast of all the schools in the city. I didn't mean to do that and did not start out with that destination in mind. I do recall how I would pull together into my being and activity my body, mind and spirit. It was almost trance and I still recall a beautiful place to be. I still do it when confronted with a stressful situation.

My youngest grandchild, a five year old girl, is in Karate along with her older sister and brother. She is so cute. She told her instructor after a couple of lessons that she was starting to remember everything her grandfather taught her. I showed them some center of gravity stabilization moves and stances, mostly offensive moves and a few very simple defensive moves also...just enough to take the edge off someone trying to bully them. They are not going to live my experience if I can avoid that. Anyhow, the instructor and her Mom thought that was hilariously cute. So do I...lol.

Anyhow that is somewhat of a condensed version of my experience with bullying and coping. I usually keep a lid on it but this one young boy got to me. I was that age and that way at one time.

My friend and I have not talked about whether this boy was thrown off or victimized by all his new-found friends and enemies. A person needs a kind of emotional “martial arts” as well as the physical when the response comes on such a scale.

But I asked if I could put both the vid and my friend’s “testimony” on this blog. He said it was okay if he were kept anonymous. It’s a version that is more positive than most.

My own memory of bullying is mostly embodied by somehow offending my primary school class on the playground, probably by dropping the ball in a game. I was pretty near-sighted and uncoordinated. They chased me, throwing things, and a ball or something hit me in the face. When the teacher saw me, she sent me to the washroom, but then sent along Melva Jean. Melva Jean’s mother was divorced and this was long enough ago that it meant to everyone that she was somehow tainted. But MJ was tough and defiant, with a compassionate side. (Which might have been like her mother.) She knew the washroom very well because she constantly thought up excuses to go there to hoard paper towels so she could draw on them. While I threw cold water on my face, she stocked up. She also shared her philosophy of life, which was mostly a matter of pushing boundaries.

I googled Melva Jean, but there are many of them and she’s no doubt married by now -- something. After all, we’re in our seventies. She and her mom moved away before we got to high school. It doesn’t take a million YouTube hits to reassure a person -- just one will do. And sometimes the best Christmas gift (or any other time) is a hand on a shoulder.


Art Durkee said...

I was seriously bullied for years as a boy. I've written about it a lot on my various blogs, so all I really want to say is that I resonate with grandpa's story here. I also ended up studying martial arts, in my case Aikido, which has served me very well. Not just physically, but energetically—you mentioned mental martial arts. Well, we learned verbal Aikido and meditation as part of the whole training, which I actually use almost daily. It had a profound effect. I'm all for kids learning at least one martial art.

Anonymous said...

Saw that touching video a few days ago when it first started making the rounds.

Odd, I picked up a martial art at a young age myself as a new kid in Browning. Fishpole.

Amazing the damage the tip of a fishing pole can do when operated a la Zorro.