The Bullied Life

This is going to be a difficult blog to write, for I am, in some small way, just as guilty as the rest of humanity for allowing people to bully others.  I admit it. My guilt rests with the fact that I didn’t fight back when I was bullied, and I allowed that bullying to color most of my life. To my detriment. I allowed it because it happened at home first, I was sort of used to it, I guess. And so it was just a continuation of what was occurring at home, something to live with, something to do nothing about, people will be people after all, and some were angrier than others. And more vocal. I knew them, knew instinctively they hurt worse than I did, and so chose to hang my head and stay invisable. Children are decidely smarter than adults about some things. I knew those kids deciding to blame their deficits on others was just easier than taking the time to sort through their own foibles. Which, of course, they didn’t know how to do without some really good parenting, which most of us didn’t have at the time. We had parents back from the second world war, grandparents who lived through the first and second world wars, post traumatic stress induced violence at home, alcoholism and drug addiction and an inability to connect emotionally. Told one thing, sent off to do another and discovering that war is truly hell and not what they wanted, and yet unable to stop. When finally defeated, Germany surrendered, men were sent back home to what? Women who had learned to do a man’s job and didn’t want to give up the freedom. The ending of a war began another one, a war in which our children continue to participate in, whether they want to or not.

What I write next is part true history, part narrative, part observation and a warning to not let prejudice color your view of the person standing next to you. We are all in this life together and no matter your beliefs, opinions, wants, desires, it will take all of us working together to make it right again. We all have the same goals, remember that please, as you read the next bits. It’s important because we are all human, we all make mistakes and we all deserve to be given a chance. Let us start with the children we so blithely send to school each day.

For some of these students, life is fraught with dangerous activites, although for most in America the danger is not recognizable as such. Danger is now in the form of social faux pas rather than in the secreting of dangerous documents and the hiding away of refugees and escaped political prisoners; although I’m sure that happens as well in a few places other than the United States. I’m talking about our junior high and high schools, those scenes of petty sexual inferences via Facebook, My Space and other well meaning social media sites, as well as the societal highs and lows sweeping through the school hallways. The places we send our children are dens of inequity these days, as much as we don’t want to recognize it.  Sexting seems to be a great hit, just don’t get caught, is the watch word. There doesn’t seem to be much respect anywhere I can see either. Bullying begins at home and goes straight to school with our children in their minds, hearts, computers, laptops, smart phones and other instruments of torture. Whenever anyone steps out of line there is a range of dedicated misogynists and feminine hijackers to tag the recipient with any number of false labels. and then spread it to all their “contacts”. Never mind their own faux pas, they are so busy dishing out false retribution they can’t see their own forest of blameful activities. I say they just want to yell first to cover up their own mistakes. Sort of like spreading a load so thick no one can see the knife or who is wielding it. Afterwards, a child tries suicide, or cutting themselves, or lying, or stealing or doing any number of rather odd behaviors to keep an adult from seeing the truth, that they hurt because of what someone said about them. What does that say about us as parents? Our children refuse to talk to us, are we not listening to them? Or are we not prepared to believe them when they do tell us? Perhaps we are not gifting our children with enough emotional armor to shield them from people who like to dish it out. And they do dish it, seen and heard it myself, plenty of times at the mall, grocery store, walking down the street or sashaying past the bus stop. I have wondered for years why people say bad things to and about other people they don’t know when it doesn’t make sense and just wastes energy. Some of the dishers I believe are bullied at home, and it’s their way of shedding the negative energy  build up before they explode. Give it to somebody else because the bully at home is bigger and therefore undefeatable. I’m sure you have heard the term “learned behavior”, well, bullying is a learned behavior.  It comes from watching parents, it is a tacit approval method of teaching shameful behavior. The Amish know how to deal with shameful behavior, it’s called “shunning”. The entire group turns its back on the sinner until the sinner changes into someone the group wants to know again, and then they either stop shunning and welcome them back to the fold or the shunned go away and never come back. That is, I know, a simplistic view of a very ancient and very religious ideology, and one that comes in handy for keeping a group together, but is it an act right for our younger students to participate in? For bullying in school is a method of shunning. Someone does something you don’t like either to you or someone you like, or you don’t believe is a right thing to dobecause it goes against your set of moral values and the next thing you have blasted them with a media blitz calling them names, lying about them, doing the dirty, so to speak.  Where are we, the adults, when all this is going on? We are talking about our neighbor, our co worker, our boss, nagging at our spouse, feeling put upon because we have so much to do…so we jabber about anything and everything without regard to what is being learned from this by our children and their friends. Learned behavior. They get it from us. Haven’t you ever said “Oh God, I sound just like my mother?” or father, as it happens. Well, you do. Because you have learned behaviors. Not everything is down to DNA.

We, the adults, no matter how stressed we feel, should know better than to talk smack either to or in front of our children about a person, but we do it anyway. We talk about so and so at work, we call the people we don’t like or don’t understand different names, labels really, pasted on top of people’s faces so we don’t have to take the time to find out who they really are. We yell at our children about how wrong they are and how it’s all there fault. We watch shows like big brother and watch they all destroy each other in the name of money. We all do it to some extent and at some time for our own reasons. Some parents are worse than others, and there are a few who, thankfully, remember not to do it all. But for those who do it’s apparently easier to cope with their own life garbage and, hey, we can get ahead by leaps and bounds by doing the dirty to someone at work we don’t like, or someone in the neighborhood we don’t want around simply because they are different. Shame on us. We give this verbal junk food to our children and they take it to school and dish it out to the unfortunate few who don’t quite understand the game. Or if they do understand it, they can do nothing to change it because they have neither the funds or the social class to keep it from happening. Yes, it’s a stacked deck, still. Always has been. And now it’s deadlier than ever. The children that kill other children are abused, confused, their DNA is screwed, their brains don’t work right anymore and yes, it’s our fault. We spray the air with toxins, we fill the ground with herbicides and pesticides and the air with exhaust fumes, we feed our children junk food per tv recommendation and worst of all, there is no time set for connecting with nature, it’s all television and computer games, telephones and snack food. I remember a time when I was young, always had chores to do, animals to care for, and weeding to do in the veg patch. Always too busy to get into trouble. What do your children do when they have the energy of a raging bull and no way to let off steam? I believe in hard work for young people, twelve and older, let them work like they live in a third world. For in truth, they do, it’s called adolescence and they have more energy to burn than a solar flare. I remember when kids worked hard physically and stayed more stable mentally and emotionally. Now everything is out of balance and their parents want to blame it on everybody but themselves. “My poor little boy/girl”, don’t want them to work as hard as you did? Didn’t hurt you did it? Kept you out of trouble, kept you sane. And perhaps you learned a trade or two, like how to fix a car, how to mow a lawn, paint a room, feed the hungry. I’m not advocating hard labor for kids, I’m just advocating physical work. And something besides football that pits one against another, don’t we have enough of that? On the news, parents hitting parents at a kid’s soccer match, and people calling the police on other people for no reason at all except because they can. Isn’t it time to start gardening together? Maybe going around raking an old lady’s yard? Learning to do things together is a useful trait to learn, and getting rid of pent up energy is a good thing. And perhaps we should also keep in mind that old saying, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  But children now are allowed to say anything about anybody whether it’s true or not. And that’s not good. It leads to moral decay of the worst kind and is being seen more and more often in society today. Fake news anybody?

This kind of political, social, cultural climate is more damaging to our children than guns in school, in fact, it’s my opinion that it’s the reason we have people with guns in school. Those children, outcasts, picked on, the ragged ones,  the lonely children misunderstood, bullied, laughed at, for usually no real reason except to make the others feel better about themselves are not the ones at fault. It starts at home with parents and how they behave towards their children. We should wash out our mouths with soap, and then start on the politicians who keep it going world wide. We are all in the proverbial “sh….r” these days and unless we pull together and stop bad mouthing everyone and everything we don’t or can’t understand, the climate is going to do it for us. It’s all of a piece, this climate change we find ourselves living in today. It started way back several thousand years ago when someone decided it wasn’t okay for somebody to have a different color skin, or different hair, or a different opinion about something, whether it be social, religious, familial or financial, and now we live in a climate of fear that we have allowed those around us to cultivate for their own use. For several thousand years we kept a balance, but somehow in the last 100 years we lost our footing. I believe it was for the sake of money. A few people got really really greedy. Some of our children are beginning to recognize this type of ugly behavior and are opting out of participating in it. Thank heavens for some favors. But some adults are still studiously ignoring the scientists and are hell bent on continuing to foment destruction around the world, forgetting that the climate is destroying us as they scurry to their next money meeting. Hurricanes, snowstorms, volcanoes, tsunamis, changes in humidy levels, the melting of arctic ice, the extinction of major animal species, important species, I might add, because without major predators, we are over run by the prey, rats, mice, insects, and we are losing our most precious animal and insect species, the pollinators. Bees, bats, butterflies, moths, we keep spraying them with insecticides, well we were, now we just put it in the food we eat, we genetically enhanced our plant life to contain the seeds of destruction, and so we are all reduced to living lives of “quiet desperation”, which in turn gives rise to all those children in our schools yelling at each other, just like our government officials, our politicians, are yelling at each other. All I can say is we had better stop yelling and start working with each other or there will be nothing living left to yell.

Green Green Roofs of Home

Just bringing it to people’s attention that many cities in America recovering from the last ten years of financial struggle, such as Detroit, have put into effect guidelines for building green in their cities. Meaning new buildings must stick to those guidelines by implementing green building ideas into their roofs, interiors and parking lots. I applaud this effort, contributing in the small ways we all can, recycling, gardening organically and up-cycling everything possible to keep unnecessary garbage out of the trash bin. We must learn to be a more conservative nation and not so much a “throw away” nation.

I’ve noticed an increase in the articles on creating “green roofs” on buildings. The effect is more than astonishing, it provides a natural corridor for migrating birds in places, allows for the continued success of singing and mating of song birds and cools the buildings without resorting to the overuse of air conditioning. Costs money to air condition, just saying…Also, songbirds have declined rapidly in urban and forested areas because of one sad fact, people are noisy. Our heavy vehicles, our way of life and behavior, the use of stereo systems and outdoor sound systems, traffic noise, all of it combines to make it impossible for some species to hear mating calls, and so they don’t find mates. No mates, no eggs, no birds.  But up in the air of a thirty story building it’s much more quiet I believe. It may be that small trees and bushes planted among other greenery such as ground covering Sedum plant mats could very well encourage our song birds to come back. It has already revived some pollinator populations in places. Pollination is important because without it, we won’t eat. Period. Nothing will get fertilized which means no cereal grains, no vegetables, no bushes, no plants, for 99.9 percent depend on pollinators to set their fruiting bodies, whether it be cereal grains, rice, or the ubiquitous Zucchini, or “Marrows” as the British call them. It is worth considering this practice when you are building a new home for yourself. Why not look into building a home for wildlife as well. Most are built of Sedum covered mats layed over a prepared roof and then left pretty much alone. These plants are drought tolerant, hardy in most places that freeze during the winter. They protect rooftops, give birds welcome relief, insulate from the heat and cold better than conventional roofs and cost about the same to install. Easy to maintain these types of roofs could give us much needed relief and provide a way to keep our carbon footprints smaller even with our larger houses. Even if the entire roof is not done, one could do half a sloping roof, leaving the other half to be conventional roofing material, or if it’s a multi roofed building, do two or three sections of roof, it cuts down on the heat lost in the winter, cools in the summer giving you relief from high air conditioning bills and helps the entire planet including birds and butterflies and bees and other pollinators, which are fast disappearing. Remember, no pollinators, no food. Intrepid rehabilitators have already brought back the Peregrine Falcon to nest in New York. Many green roofs there are thriving with birds and bees and butterflies. Just the ones we need.

So I invite you reader to give it a thought, do some research, look up green roofs on the internet and see what you can find out. It would be a good project for your children to do with you.

Solar panels are another good way to help. Anything we can do to help our climate change now will save lives in the future, and perhaps one of those lives will be one of your children or grandchildren.

How do I help? I have a wonderful land lady who installed a low water toilet, I garden organically and attract as many birds, bees and butterflies as possible into my garden. Every year I have nesting birds, a balance of good and bad insects among my veggie patch and I conserve as much water as possible. Birds are always dropping me a feather or two to say thank you. Last week I found a hummingbird’s breast feather, so dark and iridescent, so very very tiny. I see it flit from one lavender bush to another and then on into the columbines and back.  It’s always lovely to see the small ones, and they are so fast it’s unbelievable. Sometimes mistaken for large butterflies or moths, these little birds are hard working and generous creatures, giving us the benefit of pollinating our crops as they hunt for the nectar they need to stay alive. Birds also spread seeds they eat, encouraging the growth of “volunteer” plants in your garden, like the one in the picture above. It sprouted last year out of “nowhere”. I think it’s a Butterfly Bush but it is only a year old and hasn’t bloomed yet. Whatever it is the birds, or the squirrel, planted it because it is something they like to eat. So when you think you can’t do much in the way of helping to sustain the environment, or help the shrinking population of wildlife we truly need, think outside the box of your house, maybe go up and look at your roof, and while you are on the ladder look down at your garden, no matter how small, and see what kind of pollinator sustaining, flowering greenery you can add to the mix, along with wildlife and bird friendly seeding plants like Pyracantha, Virginia Creeper, their blue berries delightful to many species. Great as a vine, scarlet red in the fall for instant color. To keep it contained plant in a large pot in the ground and pull up the self seeding plantlets in the spring. Sometimes we should work as hard as our friends do…Blessings to you for reading and thank you for considering the alternatives to make our futures greener.