Thank you, McKensie, for taking the time to contribute as a guest blogger and for your ongoing commitment to putting an end to bullying.
By McKensie Garber, Miss Missouri 2015
The word “bully” has become a cliché over the years. A character in a movie. A tough kid at school. An antagonist with insecurities.
Funny thing is, bullies are a cliché. The code on their intentions has been cracked over and over again. But though they are a real cliché, they’re not the funny kind.
The definition of a “bully” is a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
I disagree with the definition where it says “those who are weaker.” Yes, timid people are easier punching bags, but they don’t often cause haters to stop and feel the J word. (Jealousy) And they aren’t the only kind of people subjected to bullying.
I have found with personal experiences that often times, bullies seek out the strongest of people. They see their confidence and it drives them crazy so they try to stifle it by shaming the person in a spectrum of ways.
I have witnessed this not only personally, but also with people who are very close to me. The sad thing is, bullying doesn’t stop after grade school and high school. I have had family members bullied in the workplace. I have had best friends bullied in college. I have had family members bully family members. I have had family members and close friends shamed on social media for work-related matters or private matters.
There are consequences to bullying. Most of the time, those negative consequences affect the victim the worst.
When I was seventeen, I met Tina Meier at the National CharacterPlus Conference in St. Charles, Missouri. I had recently been crowned Miss Missouri’s Outstanding Teen and partnered with CharacterPlus to promote my personal platform of character education.
Tina was the keynote speaker at the luncheon and shared through tears how she lost her fourteen-year-old daughter Megan to suicide after she was cyber bullied on MySpace by the parent of a classmate, pretending to be a young boy.
There are no words to encapsulate the devastation of this incident. It is inhumane.
Megan is one of thousands who have chosen to take their life after being bullied because it was too painful and hopeless to bear.
But Tina is full of hope and so am I. I hope you are too.
Since Megan’s passing, Tina has dedicated her life to promoting cyber bullying awareness and teen suicide prevention.
I hope you realize that what you say, whether verbally, passively, or through a keyboard, can and will affect a life.
The saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is false. As humans, we have the ability to either breathe life and joy into other people with our words and actions, or kill and destroy their joy and hope.
Are your everyday actions building others up, or tearing them down? Negative reinforcement? Sounds like an oxymoron to me.
It can be so easy to get caught up in the little things and slip up when we have ourselves in mind. But life isn’t about US. It is about WE. We are all sharing this planet and every day it gives us. We do not deserve anything except love and respect from one another.
Just as you would like to be valued and respected as the unique individual you are, I hope that you will value and respect the individuals you encounter in your life, in spite of the things about them you may not admire or agree with.
Do you know what’s louder than all of those things you may hate or disagree with? Love. Love is the most powerful force in the world.
I encourage you to do all things in love.
To speak only in love. Even when you disagree with someone, you can voice your opinion out of love.
To act only in love, even when it’s difficult, even when the person on the receiving end isn’t showing you a semblance of love.
Treat all living things with the compassion and respect they deserve. Life is hard for everyone. People are who they are because of the experiences and people who have shaped them. You should always remember that and strive to be a positive piece of their experience called life.
Maybe you aren’t a bully and you aren’t bullied, but perhaps you can think of someone who is a bully or a victim. According to bullylab.com, more than half of bullying situations (57 percent) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the person being bullied.