Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Will Not Stand Idly By

Hello, I was going to write a blog about my mom yesterday to celebrate her birthday, but I couldn't come up with a picture and then something happened to remind me of something I still remember that she taught me before she died when she was 29 years old (and I had not turned 6.) So, in honor of her and until I can get a live feed from my facebook and twitter accounts, I am going to take today to discuss a comment I made on Facebook yesterday evening. I will try to give you a context so you can understand where the response comes from and so you, too, can comment.

The following video was posted by my friend and colleague from Maine, Ginger Roberts:

Video: boy filmed while being bullied speaks to news crew - about bullying

Go ahead, watch the video. It doesn't take long. So a friend of Ginger's responded, "People are so cruel. I don't understand why. I just don't."

Here's my response, not to the video, but to the person who doesn't understand WHY this happens. I know exactly why... and I bet you do, too.  But the following is how I reacted.

[this happens] "because their parents and our culture tells them it's ok to bully. Our governments bully. we say, "toughen up, grow a pair" whatever, we tell anyone different they are not ok. OUR entire culture is set up to humiliate the weaker, less attractive, less athletic... and we are taught from day one via tv and schools and churches that it is ok. each of us needs to take a stand. stop it when we see it, not watch it as it happens and say poor kid... grown ups need to step into the fray and stop kids hurting other kids, no matter who the kids belong to... and we need to hold our politicians accountable... when they treat one class of citizens better, or differently that speaks a message loud and clear."

Frankly, the woman who responded that she "didn't know why" is of greater concern to me than the bullies or the newspeople who watched it happen. It is the belief that we don't know why it happens or that we don't know how to stop it that seems most likely to immobilize us and keep us from acting.  My first response is not "why?" My first response is, "is this behavior ok, for any reason, EVER?" Bullying is never ok. How we respond decides whether we are complicit in the bullying, and by not intefering, by not protecting the bullied person (child, disabled person, fat person, short person, unathletic person, geek, nerd or any other permutation of human, or animal which is in the line of fire) then we are culpable. We are responsible for the injury. There is a lovely quote beside the altar in a church in Springfield, Missouri which I first encountered (I think) in Night by Elie Wiesel, "Thou shalt not stand idly by."

I will not stand idly by and watch a bully. I will not stand idly by and watch cruelty to others. I will not stand idly by and watch my world fall to people who would destroy all I love. I will not stand idly by and stay quiet when hundreds of thousands of people are injured every year through medical error or hospital acquired infections or complications. I will not stand idly by while theologically challenged fanatics try to keep me from my human rights. I will not stand idly by ... 

What will you not stand idly by to watch? What is important enough for you to "get involved?"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Interpretation is always personal

This morning on Facebook, Maya Angelou


posted the following:

"I’ve had people explain to me what one of my poems meant, and I’ve been surprised that it means that to them. If a person can use a poem of mine to interpret her life or his life, good. I can’t control that. Nor would I want to."

It got me to thinking about my own poetry, (and other writing)  and so this is what I wrote on FB: 

"It is mine until someone else reads it and finds their own meaning. I am always stunned to see the layers so many come up with... and pleased. My job, as I see it is not to tell a static story, but to offer a place where the reader can see a path, and find herself walking it with me, but see the things along the way that I don't see. We all look through different lenses of our own making. I am always interested to see what I "missed" and what they "found.""

In order to illustrate this, I am posting a poem I wrote many years ago (2 Lives, Kaitlyn Bragdon-Roe, Enigma Press, 1998.) I would love your feedback. What, if anything, does it mean to you? Later, I will explicate it from my point of view. But I really want your "interpretation" before I offer up my original "idea."

So, there ya go. A very old poem. I would love to hear your feedback and tell me how YOU interpret it. I look forward to hearing from you. And by the way, the person who made it possible to see this poem at all is Carolyn Capern from . Check it out... she was amazingly helpful to a new friend who is seriously technically challenged when it comes to getting a picture of a Word document.

Cheers, Y'all.