Did You See Santa Bully Rudolph? 2

Rudolph

Rudolph has always been one of my favorite Christmas shows, but we were too busy to watch it when it was on a week ago, so my family and I watched last night.  Thanks to my fellow bloggers, I watched it with a fresh set of eyes.

You see Laura over at The House That Asperger Built had a post about it last week which involved much blogger discussion.  It started me thinking about a lot of things that really hadn’t occurred to me before.  Now obviously everyone knows Rudolph and his buddies were not treated very well.  That I got.  What I didn’t get was how the whole show was  about being cruel to those who are different.  When you look at it that way it makes you think.

My thoughts are that at the time Rudolph was made, it probably was meant to teach tolerance, but given today’s climate, it really does seem cruel.  I can certainly see why some of my fellow bloggers would not like it, so I have some questions for you.

Do you think Rudolph should have let Santa off so easy?  Remember I’m all about forgiveness, but even I can understand why many in the blogging community would think he shouldn’t have.  Still, I think Rudolph did the right thing.  It would have been nice if Santa had really changed, but that isn’t really clear in the story.  For those watching Charlie Brown tonight, what about Lucy?  Is she a “mean girl?”  Let me know if you think of others?

For Me, It Really Is about Forgiveness

©dswalkerauthor

©dswalkerauthor

I agree with Don Henley’s song, “The Heart of the Matter.”

The Mayo Clinic even agrees although in different words. You will find a total of 154 references to forgiveness, if you go to search their site. It is even part of a stress management and resilience program called SMART. Forgiveness is part of this structured program to develop a calm disposition. You can see two articles from the Mayo Clinic about forgiveness at the links below.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/forgiveness/MY01290

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/forgiveness/MH00131

Harvard Medical School has an article about the health benefits of forgiveness.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/power_of_forgiveness

You don’t have to look very far to see that most religions also talk about forgiveness. I’m not going to go into that here. You can look these up if you choose.

You may remember I mentioned Immaculee Ilibagiza, in my Lessons of Forgiveness blog on September 21, 2010. My point here is simply to point out that we are not the only ones who believe in the power of forgiveness.

I choose to continue to work to forgive, because I know holding onto anger causes me more harm than it causes those who hurt me in some way. Yet, as I said before, it is not easy, especially when people hurt my children in some way like the bullies hurt one of my children, and other children have tried to bully the other one. Don’t expect me to be a passive individual if you say or do something to harm my child, because remember that is when I am a lioness or grizzly bear.

Still, I continue to try to practice forgiveness in all aspects of my life, so I will forgive you just not right away. Hopefully, one day it will get easier to forgive the more I practice. Better still, maybe one day the world will be a place without bullies and where children on the autism spectrum, or with another type of difference are accepted, not mistreated.

Unlike Life, Fiction Makes Forgiveness Look Easy 5

I love fiction because you can write things the way you wish they were.  You can create as much support as you wish were available for families struggling to understand a child’s differences.  Fiction also allows the child with autism spectrum to be presented in a positive light.  Too many times real life does not do this.  People judge harshly when they do not understand, and somethings cannot be taken back.  They can hopefully be forgiven, but forgiveness sometimes takes time.

Most people have trouble forgiving people who deeply wound them, but add the dimension of Asperger’s and multiply the time and effort it takes to forgive by ???  I really do not have an exact number, as like neurotypicals, every individual on the spectrum is unique.  The wounds are certainly deeper, but then I think bullying deeply wounds any child.  Yet, in my book, Delightfully Different, Mia forgives after a couple of years.  I want to be clear; I love fiction!!!

I put most of the responsibility for forgiveness on Mia in the book.  In reality, I know the child with Asperger’s has to see the parent forgive first.  This is not easy for the parent either.  When someone wounds your child how do you forgive?  It certainly is difficult!  That is why I really am grateful to Immaculee Ilibagiza for her example.

Time and infinite support help us to learn how to forgive.  It is not something that comes quickly.  It involves baby steps, three forward, five back, then three-step forward again for what seems like an impossible amount of time, if it happens at all.  It also involves love and patience and acceptance of why the process is so difficult.  Ideally, it involves the other person meeting them at least half way, if not three-quarters of the way repeatedly.  When this does not  happen the process can take longer.  There is still hope, but it does take time.

A friend once told me that it is too bad that we cannot have a do over with our first child, the way we can with a piece of pottery when it crashes.  I really do not want a do over, but I do wish I had done so many things differently.  I love my children the way they are, so I would not do either of them over even if I could, but I would do it differently with the knowledge I have now.

Delightfully Different is a work of fiction, so Mia’s mother did things differently than I did.  She also has two wonderful sisters, while I have none.  The point I am making is do not assume the book is about my family, it really is not.  There are similarities because I am the writer and we write what we know, but I can assure you none of the characters in my story exist in real life.

Therefore, this story is not like Look Me in the Eye or Running with Scissors.  It isn’t like The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night either.  Remember all three of these were about boys or men, not girls.  The only meanness is from the mean girls.  The only sadness is from “normal” life events and the frustration caused by misunderstandings.

The subtle traits Mia’s family and doctors miss are real traits of Asperger’s that are frequently missed especially in girls, the bullying Mia experiences really happens every day in our schools.  The rest is just a story that I totally enjoyed writing, and I hope you will enjoy reading.

I welcome your comments and after you have read the story, I welcome your reviews on the bookstore sites, as well as here.

The Importance of Forgiveness

IMG_5023I truly believe if we remain angry, we risk becoming the bullies as mentioned in my previous blog, about the emotional scars of bullying. There have been many posts over the internet about how people believe kids should handle bullies. Previously, I commented on a parentdish.com post regarding a father in Florida, who found out someone bullied his daughter on the bus.

I briefly mentioned this in my previous post, Lessons of Forgiveness. I feel I need to do another post about forgiveness because someone commented immediately after me, and suggested that kids need to learn martial arts and then just beat up the bullies.

This is my response:

  1. I have to wonder how many people who respond really understand that the victims of bullying are often children with some form of disability, whether physical or learning or neurological, and they are victims of multiple people at once, not just one person.
  2. Any martial art that allows that level of defense takes years to learn. While I certainly think bullies need consequences, I don’t think physical force is the answer.
  3. The girl, whose father defended her, had cerebral palsy, so it seems unlikely that she would be able to defend herself in this way.
  4. Isn’t recommending this line of defense again implying that the victim has the responsibility to defend herself while the bully has no responsibility?
  5. Shouldn’t we change this climate of blaming the victim?
  6. Shouldn’t we reward people who speak up for themselves and for others, instead of allowing kids to abuse them on a bus or anywhere else?

The whole climate of the school needs to change to one of rewarding good behavior, and especially rewarding those who stand up for others.

I think we as a society have a responsibility to teach our kids that being mean is wrong. My parents and my teachers taught me that being mean to anyone is wrong. I need to be clear that this does not imply that we have to require kids to be friends with everyone.

However, we do need to teach them to respect others including those they do not like for whatever reason. They need to know that talking over others, turning their backs on them, or spreading rumors about them is wrong. Civilized societies usually have rules about being polite, yet somehow our society is failing miserably in teaching this to a significant population of our children.

My goal is not to punish the kids who have not been taught to be kind. I have to forgive the kids and work to educate them instead; otherwise I would become the bully. I think we have to change our society from elementary school up so that our kids learn there are consequences to their actions. We also have to educate the parents, as it is their job to insure their kids grow up to be good citizens.  

If the parents need help with this, then maybe we should refer them back to reading the terms of agreement before signing up for social networks. Most do not allow for harassment, defamation of character, or invasion of privacy. I believe there are still laws in our states regarding this as well. Parents too have to understand that their kids’ actions have consequences. They need to understand that they are legally accountable for their children’s actions, and as a society we should hold parents accountable.

This does not let schools off the hook. I fully expect my kids’ schools to protect them while they are under their watch, and if they don’t then they too are accountable. Even if a girl’s father hasn’t reported an incident to the school, the school still has to protect his daughter. So, please don’t just tell me the dad overreacted by getting angry, and assume that lets the school off the hook. The dad reacted with anger because he was angry. Who wouldn’t be? Anger is not always a bad thing, especially if we turn our anger to positive action. Violence and bullying are always bad however.

I’ve had to work at forgiving the people who hurt my loved one, and believe me it hasn’t been easy. It certainly didn’t happen the moment I heard about the bullies’ behavior. It’s a process and one I still work at every day.

I think it is important enough to work at this, because I really have no desire to become like the bully. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror, and say I’m really doing my best. I don’t want anger to consume me, for that is what anger does. It’s the reason we have terrorist and wars. It’s why there are genocides in our world.

Holding on to anger until it consumes us is our true enemy. Forgiveness is essential to avoid this. Therefore, I work at forgiveness while I try to make positive changes to protect the innocent.

Mahalo for listening,

D. S. Walker