Mele Kalikimaka and Hauoli Makahiki Hou 13

From the Land Where Palm Trees Sway ©dswalkerauthor

From the Land Where Palm Trees Sway ©dswalkerauthor

From the land where palm trees sway, I want to share with you my dream for the future, as I wish each of you much peace and joy during the holiday season and throughout the coming year.  I hope and pray 2011 is a year of change, where people make an honest effort to be more open minded and really try to educate themselves about differences by reading books like Delightfully Different or similar stories that explain autism spectrum and/ or other differences.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream and so do I.  I dream of a world where bystanders, parents, teachers, counselors, principals, and all people stand up to bullies and their parents and let them know it truly is time for change.  I dream of a world that is bully free.  I dream of a world where kindness is rewarded and more highly desired than a football championship.  Kindness, respect, understanding and acceptance should have a greater value in our society.  In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone.”

Bullying in the Aloha State

Lanai from hotel roomWhen my children were younger we read a story book about the Aloha Bear which taught that aloha means hello, goodbye, and love. People also use it to mean peace, compassion, and mercy. Yet, even in Hawaii, we have a bullying problem that isn’t going away. Those who have been reading my blog know this affected my family directly a few years ago.

Hawaii is one of the few states without legislation specifically aimed at bullying, yet the problem is no longer being ignored. The harassment law was amended last year to allow for prosecution of technology related bullying. State leaders are working on ways to curb the bullying. The news media has also been giving it more attention this year. See the following for more information: Cyber bullying affects 1 in 2 Hawaii teens – Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL Home

It is time to educate the parents as to their responsibility. For more information about this see my accountability post: Accountability for Protecting Our Children | dswalkerauthor.

A parent’s primary job is to teach their child right from wrong and to protect them from harm. Protect your child no matter what anyone at the school or anywhere else tells you. Protect them by legal means please! Work with me to change the system.

Unfortunately, you will probably also have to help your child learn to forgive so they can completely heal. Becoming the bully is not an option. Becoming an advocate is. It is truly time to change the school climate to one of tolerance and acceptance of differences. I hope some of you will be brave enough to publicly agree with me by commenting here.

Addendum: Hawaii’s anti-bullying law became effective in 2011. However, it excludes over 150 private schools. You can find more posts about bullying by clicking on more supportive schools from the menu or entering bullying in the search area.

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.