I can't stop thinking about it this afternoon. It makes me grateful for parents who taught me to stick up for the under dog. It makes me proud of my sister Kate for letting Keith play wild stallions with her and her friends on the playground even though he was a little smelly.
When I look back on my own years I was never the cool kid in school. I was the Mormon, respected but generally left alone. It lead to a few lonely days, but in the end I was kind and funny and I made friends. Very good friends who are very good people. I have a lot of respect for the people I went to high school with, because no one was bullied, or tortured. I can think of a few kids who weren't cool. But they weren't made fun of. They were left alone. My mom taught me that I didn't have to be best friends with them, but I ALWAYS had to be kind. My friend Peet was the greatest example of this. She was as cool as it got in my mind, and yet in gym she would find the most awkward lonely kid and have him walk the track with us. I am still not sure either of us knew a word that Rich was saying but for one class period every day he knew he had a friend.
Mom always taught us that the kids that are the dirtiest, smelliest, most obnoxious, etc. are probably that way because they don't have parents who love them like I do. I know for a fact that the three or four people I can think of that fit that description had horrible home lives, and most were in and out of foster care.
One of those girls recently added me on facebook. She was so negative and almost suicidal in her posts that I deleted her. Today I readded that girl I once knew, who is currently begging for help. Maybe just maybe I can be some influence for good in her life.
Guess what? That chubby kid who wore penny loafers with socks and jeans in high school... The one you thought was weird but were always kind to even though he had a huge crush on you and it kinda weirded you out. He will be the first person to call you when your mom dies, and he will make sure that your other best friend who is living in the Czech Republic knows about it almost before you do. When you fly back home a couple years later and are feeling so incredibly lonely for your mom, and every thing you touch or see is a memory that pricks at your aching heart... he will know that is probably the case and make sure to meet up with you at the local diner and talk with you and make you laugh. He will respect you for the rest of his life, and he will turn to you when things are tough. When someday he sees a Mormon kid getting picked on he will stand up for him because he knew a Mormon once who was a great person, and when the missionaries knock on his door he will be kind and cordial to them and offer them a Pepsi that they will politely refuse. Your life will be better because you were kind to one boy in high school you could have easily ignored.
Oh and that awkward, skinny red head in gym class. She lives in New York now and is a fabulous actress that has been a regular on a popular drama and in numerous movies. She is going to be a star someday, but in high school maybe you were her star, and she yours. All it took was kindness to find a very sincerely kind heart to cling to in rough times.
And to everyone who was kind to that one Mormon girl. I appreciate it. I share this not to toot my own horn. I share it because as I watched this video I realized bullying doesn't just happen with kids. I am no longer the Mormon, I mean I am still Mormon, but now I live in Davis County Utah (Mormon Central). I am no longer THE Mormon, I am one of many. So I reflect this afternoon on who is the "Rich" in my social circles. Who needs me to reach out and be kind? Who needs a good laugh or just a kind smile? I can always be kind.
The power of one good friend (Kip) changed my dad's life, changed my mom's life (the girl who invited her back to church), changed my brother's life (Jon) and thus changed my life. I can't be the person who passes up the opportunity to change the lives of those around me.