December 7 - Day Thirteen
There are few in my generation who do not equate this date with the Japanese sneak attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. This attack precipitated the United States' entry into the Second World War. The following day President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to the Congress and asked for a declaration of war against the Japanese Empire for what he called, “this dastardly deed.” In the first sentence of his address he stated, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” It should be noted that the word “infamy” is defined as a strong condemnation as the result of a shameful, criminal, or outrageous act.
Today, this generation of Americans faces many challenges. One of these is that endured by many young people in our schools who daily face the prospect of going to school and becoming victims of verbal and/or physical abuse. Additionally, in this age of social media bullying can occur at any time. In the past it seems that bullying was ordinarily thought of as boys physically intimidated by other boys, but with the advent of the internet it seems that bullying has become especially attractive to girls. Words have a powerful impact on all of us – most especially young people who do not yet possess the emotional skills necessary to cope with this kind of abuse from their peers. Unfortunately, the bully either does not know this, does not care, or has suffered in their own young life so much verbal or physical trauma they have no recourse it would seem but to act out. Whatever the cause we must make bringing this dastardly behavior to a quick end a national priority.
Those of us who suffered bullying when we were young know that the hate-filled words and the physical abuse can and do cause severe emotional trauma, not only while we are in school but perhaps for the remainder of our lives. Bullying leads to a tremendous drain on our nation’s most valuable resource – its young people. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, for children to concentrate on their studies when they face physical harm or verbal insults on a daily basis from their peers. Many have no one they feel that they can talk to about this or perhaps are too embarrassed to tell anyone about it due to a sense of shame for not being able or willing to stand up to this abuse. How many children must lie awake at night in absolute fear of what they know may well come the next day; how many more must die by their own hand who are unable or unwilling to endure it?
While many communities and schools have made great strides in combatting this problem – it still exists, as we all know. Unfortunately, this does not happen nearly enough in the schools and only lip service is paid to try to curtail the problem for the long term. Bullying will continue until each of us makes a commitment that we will refuse to condone or permit young people to be bullied in any way, shape, or form. We must instill in our own children the decencies found in the Holy Bible. Require of your own children that they must never, in any way, harm others or equally as important allow others to be bullied without intervening in some way or reporting it to an adult. So many victims of bullies are too afraid or ashamed to do this themselves. For it is written in Psalms 82:4, “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
For those who find themselves to be victims of bullies take heed the Gospel found in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Also from Matthew 5:38-41, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
Until the day comes that NO CHILD in our society lives in constant fear of the bully we, each of us, will live in the days of infamy that Franklin Roosevelt spoke about so long ago. For truly, the acts of the bully reflect on all of us as those acts ultimately affect negatively not only our society but all of human civilization. This is a poor reflection on what we like to think of as the United States of America being a great nation – that we should permit this scourge to continue.
By Dennis Clark, Professional Registered Parliamentarian
Parliamentarian of the NECW Board