Conditioning a Populace
I eventually cut my hair and started wearing dress shirts and slacks. Although I was accepted by the local merchants as someone worthy of hiring, I was still considered dangerous (yes, I was described in that way) because of my fierce anti-authoritarian streak, my acerbic wit, my outspokenness when faced with injustice, my take no prisoners attitude towards those who I felt had wronged me, and because I am quasi-influential.
By "take no prisoners", I do not mean physical attacks. I am a peaceful man at heart. What I mean is that I would call people out, in public settings, especially when it came to the topic of bullying.
My Dark Secret
- My grandmother was the matriarch of our family. Everyone in the family, and immediate friends, gathered at her house for all holidays, birthdays, and when relatives or friends came in from out of town. My grandmother was very generous. If you were at her house, she would go into a litany of the food she had because she wanted desperately to feed you. She let everyone and their brother stay at her house for any length of time. She always, always, always wanted to give you a hug.
However, when I had long hair, dressed in my own style, and was in the crux of being harassed and brutalized by almost everyone in my life (literally, people would yell shit or throw eggs from moving cars) my grandmother said things like "don’t tell anyone you are related to me". I was an embarrassment to her. When her children (my uncles and aunt) picked on me or made threats in front of her, she laughed or walked away.
When I re-married, I had moved my family back to Massachusetts, my wife did not understand why I refused to go to my grandmother’s house for gatherings. She did not understand why I refused to visit my uncles and aunts. She gets it now after seeing their true colors.
My grandmother died over ten years ago. My family no longer gathers as they used to. Now, only the elites within the family gather. When one of them comes to town, they do not invite the entire family to welcome the visitor, just the elites are invited. My own sister is part of that elitism. She has come to town on numerous occasions without telling me. I know it was not her intent, but it hurt. My sister aside, these things I speak of here are subtle examples of the underlying elitist attitudes in our culture that empower bullying.
For the record, I do not hate my sister. I love her very much. This is only my perspective on our interactions.
This page is dedicated to the victims of bullying. You are the Beautiful People, the special ones, the ones for whom I fight these battles of words.