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

Girls with Asperger’s Syndrome

Purchased Clipart Collection Version 1.2 (2.2) Copyright ©Macmanus. All rights reserved.

Purchased Clipart Collection Version 1.2 (2.2) Copyright ©Macmanus. All rights reserved.

Yesterday parentdish.com posted the above article about Angie Dickinson’s daughter having been misdiagnosed by the psychiatric community at a time when Asperger’s was not a recognized diagnosis. The story was heart breaking as Ms. Dickinson was blamed for her daughter’s behaviors, and due to lack of understanding she received little to no support while raising her daughter.

I wish I could say things have changed drastically, but  mother’s still have to fight for their daughters. At a time when Autism has gotten so much media attention, girls with Asperger’s are still frequently misdiagnosed and they are still misunderstood by their peers and families. I firmly believe that with understanding, tolerance and getting the correct type of support for these girls and their families, they can live fulfilling lives and make wonderful contributions to our society. I know someone on the spectrum who is truly amazing and who I love dearly. She inspired me to write the novel.

I also know that with understanding and support, the temper tantrums so many report as symptoms of Asperger’s can be avoided. There are also so many wonderful qualities of Asperger’s that are rarely reported. I cried when I read about how Ms. Dickinson’s daughter composed music at an early age, and yet her father did not see the talent she inherited from him. Her family instead saw her differences including her reactions to loud noises. Would our society destroy the great classical composers and artist if they lived today and what about the great inventors?  I hope we wouldn’t but at times I wonder. Let’s protect our children so they can accomplish great things.

Excerpt From the Novel

Delightfully Different Book CoverBelow is an excerpt from Delightfully Different. Several people wrote books about kids on the Autism Spectrum having spiritual gifts, and they do seem to know things well beyond what their age and “limitations” would allow. Some parents believe that their children chose them which is why I chose to have Mia start out as a spirit watching her mother from heaven. This also allowed family history to be included in her story which I felt was important, as girls are frequently not diagnosed until they are older because their symptoms are more subtle like Mia’s.

I was with Mom before I was born. I watched her from heaven for years waiting for her to have a child so I could be born.
I first learned about Mom when she was only twelve years old. She had many losses in her life that year, including her Grandma Laura. When Great-Grandma Laura died, she and I became friends. She told me how Francesca was such a sweet girl that she hated to leave her. She said she knew that Francesca was special the day she met her as a newborn baby. The two of them had a special bond. Great-Grandma Laura learned I would get to choose my mother. She begged me to observe Francesca for a time to decide if she should be my mother.
So unbeknownst to my future mother, I studied her from heaven. Great-Grandma was right; she was special. She had flyaway, silky, copper-colored hair and beautiful green eyes that lit up when she smiled. I observed how much she loved all of her family and her pets. …
I did want to be her daughter. 




Turning Anger to Forgiveness and Action 1

From 1963 Speech of Martin Luther King, Jr.

From 1963 Speech of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I started writing Delightfully Different to teach tolerance of differences, yet at the time I was angry not forgiving. A group of mean girls wounded someone whom I love dearly. The books for middle school girls were about being mean to be popular, and the other mothers were reading Queen Bees and Wannabes. I learned some even were okay with their daughter acting like the queen bee. I don’t believe that was what the author of the book intended still that is what happened.

I decided that I had to change this somehow. I started by educating the school as to how things affected my loved one and how they could help. They did help, but I also realized the root of the problem was not the school. The root of the problem was lack of understanding of differences, and that meanness is not okay. I decided I had to do something which is how the book was born.

A good friend saw how angry I was and suggested that I try writing from a place of love not anger, and she was totally right to suggest this. She also advised me that even if I never sold the book that writing would be therapeutic, and again she was right. Still I refused to stop there, as from day one I kept telling people about my idea, and that I was going to write a book to teach tolerance in our schools.

Another friend told me that if I was serious, that I needed to get the book on Oprah, because some schools chose their required reading books from Oprah’s book club. I did my research and learned that at least some of the books used are on Oprah’s list; therefore, my ultimate goal for this book is to somehow get it be to be one of the books in Oprah’s book club. I know the kids who need to read it most will then read it, hence I e-mailed Oprah yesterday through her magazine web site. Now we wait and I ask all of you to pray that she somehow sees the e-mail and agrees to help.

Mahalo,

D. S. Walker