Sticks and Stones

Warning: This is not my usual post. A recent event occurred in our community, and I wanted to share my semi-fictionalized account.

“He’s just trailer-trash.”

“You are such a bimbo!”

“That’s retarded.”

Haole. Uncle Tom. Jap. Honky. Mick. Hymie. Poon. Spic. Rag-head.

“That’s so gay!”
—————————————————————

The golf ball shot off the tee and veered sharply to the left, heading straight toward the posh homes parallel to the fairway.

Inanimate objects don’t know where they’re going, nor where they’ll stop. The tiny ball’s path would eventually bring it through the Murray’s family room window and fatefully come to rest at the bottom of the body. Cold and lifeless, 18 year-old Benson Murray hung from the rope attached to the second-story landing, overlooking the great room with a golf-course view and now shattered picture-window.

He left no note, but had spent many years battling depression. Some of it coming from the taunts and harassment for being homosexual. Just two years earlier, as he went outside to go to work, he had to face derogatory epithets spray-painted on his car and driveway. Most likely from kids he passed in the hallways every day at his suburban high school:

“Gay.”

“C—sucker.”

“Queen.”
—————————————————————-

“… but names will never hurt me.”

I’m not a soap-box person so I won’t belabor the point. Our culture seems to have turned from common-sense manners – most of the time – to rudeness, rage, and attacks on each other. The consequences can be devastating and can  lead to alcohol abuse, chemical dependency, depression, self-mutilation, and possibly even suicide.

“Catch your breath,
Hit the wall,
Scream out loud,
As you start to crawl
Back in your cage
The only place
Where they will
Leave you alone.
‘Cause the weak will
Seek the weaker til they’ve broken them.”
Simon, from the group Lifehouse

How do we treat others – stereotype, build up, tear down?
What is our influence on those around us – family, friends, students, co-workers, etc?


97 Comments on “Sticks and Stones”

  1. Bethany says:

    Wow! The response to this one has been huge. I didn’t have time to read through all of them, but I wanted to add my two cents.

    Bullying is such an enigma to me. I grew up being taught to be kind to other people, and to treat others the way I would want to be treated. I know not everyone is fortunate to have a loving family upbringing, but I still don’t understand why some people (dare I say many people?) treat others with such cruelty.

    I was the recipient of some bullying in elementary school because I stuck up for and befriended those on the fringes. I never regretted doing that, even at the tender age of 11 when I suddenly became a lower-class citizen in the eyes of my friends. As an adult, I was asked (by my boss) how I manage to survive when I’m so open and soft-hearted. Don’t I get hurt a lot?

    The answer is both yes and no. It doesn’t hurt to be kind to people. Most of the time, I get a lot of great stuff back from people I’ve been kind to. It feels good. Some people seem to think the only way to get ahead is to beat others down. I love the idea of “attracting more bees with honey than vinegar”. But yes, I also get hurt because I feel so deeply for others, and am greatly affected by those who use hurtful words to push others away. Sometimes those hurtful words are directed towards me and I’m still learning how to deal with them and how to keep from internalizing them.

    I feel so sad when I hear of someone who takes their life because they were bullied. It’s quite possible that one kind person at the right time could have saved their lives.

  2. Judy says:

    This is so incredibly sad. I feel so bad for that young man and his family, and for anyone who is bullied, or singled out because they appear “different”.

    I agree with Ian who spoke of respect and love. We, as a society have lost the basic social skills of how to get along and treat others. Those are the things that traditionally have been taught and handed down by generations. Somewhere along the way this tradition broke down, when some families stopped showing/modeling it to their children.

    The school district I taught in, and many others across the country, felt we needed to teach it. We started it about 20 years ago. We had observed behaviors in children that showed they were lacking in respect, responsibility, cooperation and other social skills. We had many families who still taught these skills at home, but everyone received the lessons.

    The program was (and still is) very successful and with a calmer, more cooperative and respectful school atmosphere, the students’ test scores reached higher levels than before.
    Sadly, some of our kids went home to sit around the dining room table with families who regularly spouted nasty words about other people.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Judy, yes it is a very sad situation. For the community, the school, and the parents (in particular).

      I love your sharing about what your school district did. There does seem to be a lack of some of those social skills being taught at home. Part of it may be that the schools no longer feel like they’re allowed to exert that much influence. I think that’s because parents have backed their kids even when the kids have been at fault. We saw this when our kids were in school.

      Amazing that some of the kids in your program still had to deal with negative behaviors from their parents. Shameful, really!

  3. Mike,

    Thank you for shining a light into The Darkness. Mankind has advanced technologically but not spiritually. I read about a research study recently that said that the current generation of young people have about 20% less empathy than previous generations.

    I attribute part of the problem to the nature of comedy in sitcoms on TV today. The humor doesn’t arise organically from the situations (as it did so brilliantly on the I Love Lucy Show). Almost all of the humor on TV now comes from put-downs, insults, disrespect for parents, etc. Sadly, it gets laughs, but it’s mindless humor–requiring the least amount of imagination on the part of the writers.

    –John

    • mj monaghan says:

      Wow, 20% less empathy – that’s terrible!

      That’s a great point on the biting humor at someone else’s expense. That’s the way a lot of the late night talk shows are as well. You’re on to something there, John!

  4. I don’t know what’s going on with our world. Why are we all so angry and hateful?
    Thanks for sharing this stores and these thoughts, MJ.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Yeah, it’s crazy, Laine! I don’t get it, honestly. There seems to be more awareness than ever before, and yet more rage. I wish the people who need it, would get it.

      • dinkerson says:

        Good points! And great post!

        It could be that the rage stems from the policies of the “awareness” campaign. Some/many people may feel like they are being forced to view a particular behavior as completely acceptable, when their belief system is clearly at odds with it.
        “Don’t disagree or you’re a bigot!” they say.
        “Don’t take offense or you’re a homophobe!” the claim.

        Perhaps people feel like they are being forced into a belief system and they are reacting.
        Or, of course, overreacting.

        • mj monaghan says:

          Thank you. You do bring up some good points with your comment. And I think there are some people out there who do feel that way. If this pushes them to be belligerent or bullying, then you are correct, it has gone too far. I really appreciate your comments and you’re stopping by the blog. This is not my typical post – usually I lean more toward humor/informational posts.

  5. Joe says:

    What a terrible story Michael. Suicide has entered my life on at least 5 occasions that I can recall off the top of my head. And probably 3 of those were because that person was “different” than “normal” society.

    How can we, and I say that as a collective bunch inhabiting the same planet, torment people to the point they do not want to live anymore? It’s absolutely disgusting and we should all make a point to do our part to make this world a better place.

    No, one person cannot change the world, but I bet 8 billion people can!

    • mj monaghan says:

      Wow, five occasions. That’s particularly brutal, my friend.

      To push someone that far is so troubling. Wish someone had the answer, but as you say collectively we all have to do it.

  6. Judy Berman says:

    Thanks for speaking out, Michael. I recall a very sweet young man when I was in 6th grade. A neighbor – also in the 6th grade with us – came to his defense when the boy was picked on. Many years later, I met him again. We were working at the same place. Sad to say, he’d changed. I suspect his anger was the result of being tormented for years because of his homosexuality. No one has the right to diminish another for any reason – sexual orientation, race, religion, culture, gender, etc.

    • mj monaghan says:

      That is definitely one of the side effects of ridicule and bullying. People can become bitter quite easily. Very sad that this happened to your classmate. Just think how different things could have been for him if people would have been supportive and encouraging. Great comment Judy.

  7. Hi mj, I know this is a departure from your usual humorous material, but it makes me glad to know that there is one more voice speaking out for justice and equality. I don’t understand why people can’t just live and let live. Thanks for speaking out.

  8. Elaine says:

    Sad to say, my personal experience shows that most people have an inate instinct to band together against someone who is “different”. I hate it. I’ve been on the short end of it in my childhood and do believe I’ve been scared for life as a result. I wasn’t even the one who was different, it was a girl who had epilepsy. I just happened to be the only one in class who was willing to be her friend and therefore carried her “germs”. In my case the misery ended after I finished grade school but I can see why, for someone who can see no end to the misery, the desire to end it can be great.

    From what I can see, you’re one who exerts only positive influence on those around you. :)

    • mj monaghan says:

      I’m glad that you came to the aid of your friend. How sad that you were shamed because you stood by your friend. That’s very brave for a child to do what you did.

      Your point about people having a “mob mentality” is a very good one. Once a group turns on someone, it’s hard to remove oneself from that group-think. It becomes like a pack of wolves.

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience, Elaine.

  9. The Hook says:

    Even civilized people resort to ugly, racist behavior when things get REALLY hairy sometimes. Great post, my freind.

  10. territerri says:

    You’re right. It seems to be the norm to belittle those around us, those who aren’t like us or whom we don’t understand. In a group setting, “making fun” is a common form of entertainment and if you don’t join in, everyone wonders what is wrong.

    What happened to doing unto others? Why do so many feel that they have to hurt those who are perceived as different? Why do they have to be put in their place?

    I wish there was some sort of movement that would be big enough to turn the tide of this way of thinking. The world is becoming a scary place to live.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Teri, that’s the question: How do we turn this tide? Get people to understand how much they hurt those around them. We see this on late night talk shows – Letterman, Leno, etc. Their monologues are much about ridiculing others. Fun at their victims expense.

      The golden rule is just not so golden, anymore.

  11. Jane Thorne says:

    We must never judge our fellow man as how on earth can we know what is going on behind the carefully structured facade that they present to the world…my Great Granny used to say that if you can’t say anything kind, say nothing at all. Nobody has the right to make anyone feel less than they are…speak from love and kindness. Thank you for sharing this and it is heart breaking to read as it has recently happened in our community.

    Hope you have got some sleep – take care, Jane

    • mj monaghan says:

      Jane, your Great Granny had the right idea. Your comments are always thoughtful and appreciated. Will just creating awareness about this tragic issue.

      Thank you for your kindness.

  12. The overall theme of this post of yours is connected to The Hook’s at

    http://thebookofterrible.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/174-when-our-kids-put-us-behind-the-eight-ball/

    (Thank you, Hook, for letting me share. Hiya Mother, Beader and Coffee Lover!)

    Talking about parental influences and this post, my parents have never been homophobic, yet when I left home and moved out of state to college at 19, I began to fear my homosexual college mates as some sort of demons. Still can’t say where that came from. I didn’t treat the alleged gays in college badly at all; I just avoided them. Because I was scared of them. But I (still) don’t know why.

    At the time, when I spoke to Dad and Mum about “them”, they told me that some children (I’m still referred to as a child by Mum) fancy members of the same gender, and that was their decision to make and not mine to dispute. I didn’t buy it. As was sometimes the case, this was another where “(my) parents didn’t know much, but (my) peers did”. The wisdom of youth. Ha ha!

    It is only when I was in my mid 20s that I came to believe and accept homosexuals as people, just like everyone else I knew and got along with.

    Today, I know a couple of homosexuals – males and females – at work and generally. I have two very good gay (guy) friends. The one from my primary school has still not stepped out of the closet because he fears the repercussions in our social circle. So, painful as it was, in his late 20s, he left his family and moved to another country where things are a little less difficult for him.

    The one I worked with some years ago never came out to our colleagues during the entire year he was with us. He opened up to me within a week and I gladly became his “fruit fly”, according to some who were suspicious of my friend’s orientation. Why did I even need a label? Could I not be just “X’s friend”? Apparently not.

    Gay, straight, same, same. End of story for me.

    For whatever it’s worth, and whenever you and the boy’s family come to terms with their loss, mj, please tell them that someone somewhere added their boy’s name to her bedtime prayers one night. Thanks.

    Hope you feel better soon. ‘Course you will! You’re mj! You have YLB by your side! And lovely children! And a doggie! :-)

    Kate

    • mj monaghan says:

      Kate, sharing your personal experience is very brave, my friend. But it puts a face to our being human. You have always been one of the most “real” people I’ve encountered in the blogosphere. And you’re always so insightful and encouraging. I don’t know what else to say, but “thank you” for all you do in your great comments and in being you. A post without one of your comments is like a day without oxygen. And you grace this topic with several – so a HUGE thank you!! :)

      • Thank you for those wonderful words, mj.

        I don’t get a lot of time for personal work at the PC, so I can’t comment as often as I’d like to. But I do read every post of yours and every comment, too. (Started the same recently with your ‘The Book of Terrible’, Hook. About two weeks ago, to be precise.)

        >I don’t know what else to say, but “thank you” for all you do in your great comments and in being you.
        - I’m no angel, mj. Those horns lurk not too far from the surface and rear their ugly selves when I’m hungry, tired or see some injustice being meted out. My big mouth gets me into trouble sometimes, but I also get told I fought for a worthy cause and that I fought fairly. So Kombat Kate is not going anywhere anytime soon. Bwa ha ha ha ha.

        >You have always been one of the most “real” people I’ve encountered in the blogosphere.
        - I don’t see the point in putting up a facade, here or in real life. It’s too exhausting. In person, not everyone I deal with can handle my lack of pretense. I am lucky to have found a handful of people everywhere I’ve lived and worked at who are just as forthright. We continue to be friends although we don’t share the same GPS coordinates any more.

        >A post without one of your comments is like a day without oxygen.
        - So no pressure, didja say?

        I really do admire your patience to respond so carefully to every comment. No easy feat that.

        Kate

  13. Oh, MJ, that’s just heart breaking. I feel for that boy and his family. There is no sense in bullying and for that boy to think he had no other choice… just so sad and tragic.

    • mj monaghan says:

      You are such a compassionate and kind person, Tameri. So glad I’m getting to know you better over the last few weeks.

      I didn’t want to drag everyone down in this post, but it just is so unfathomable what happened to this young man. And your point – him feeling that he had no other choice – is the sad, brutal truth!

  14. I’m so sorry about that young boy. It hurts me to think that there may be kids in school treating my kids like that too, for whatever reason. So sad. I’m thinking of a song for a discrimination commercial that used to run on AFRTS when I was an Air Force brat. I think it might have been from a movie, but I’m not sure.

    “You must be taught to hate and fear. You must be taught from year to year, before you are six, or seven or eight, you must be carefully taught.”

    I’ve always remembered that. It’s so sad that people cannot be more accepting of those who are different from them.

    • oh – forgot the most important line: “to hate all the people your relatives hate…”

    • mj monaghan says:

      Great message in the AFRTS commercial. I was in the AF for eight years. I probably saw it, but don’t remember.

      I’ve seen parents who have been bigots right in front of their kids. And it’s a shame that they are passing their bad habits on to their kid. I just don’t get it.

      When I was a manufacturing supervisor in Ohio, I couldn’t believe how racist the whites and blacks were in that city – mainly from Akron. I pulled two in my office at different times to admonish them strongly.

  15. Thank you for pointing out the total inaccuracy in the Sticks and Stones adage. Names, indeed, are the unkindest and deepest cuts of all. It’s amazing that more people don’t recognize that, since we all walk around with our heads full of things someone we loved once said to us that hurt. I’m terribly sorry for what happened in your community.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Yeah, exactly! I’ve never understood how one could espouse that adage as being true. Must have been thought of by a bully, right?? And yes, we all could go back to a parent, brother, sister, uncle, or close friend who have belittled each of us in some small, or large way.

  16. Arindam says:

    You did a wonderful thing, by writing something with a completely different concept. I feel really sad after reading this one. Great piece of writing Mj. I feel, we have no rights to hurt someone else’s sentiment either by our words or our behavior.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Thank you Arindam. I was so compelled to write this post. I just felt so strongly that the word had to go out about this specific situation. No one has the right to treat someone this way, for sure. Thank you for your comment, my friend.

  17. vixytwix says:

    Pause. I am saddened to hear of this, your words caught me at the right time. Very hard to comment because it is just too close. Beautifully captured MJ. I had just been thinking about how people put so much effort into hurting others for their own satisfaction and wondering… why? Now, another precious life lost. This makes me want to advocate harder for the teaching of inclusion, diversity and acceptance to stamp out bullying.
    Thank you so much for sharing this, I know it must have been hard.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Thank you for your comments, Vixy. It was my most difficult piece since I started blogging. Such a tragic situation. How do we get people to stop being so callous and cold with others feelings? I’m not sure. I always worry that the right people aren’t paying attention to what they need to do to change their behavior. Hopefully those who need to read these things, will.

  18. k8edid says:

    Some souls are simply too beautiful to exist in the ugliness of this world, and I am saddened whenever one chooses to leave it of their own accord because the thoughtless, intentional brutality of fellow “human beings”. Tragic is right.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Wow, k8e, that sentence packs so much truth in it! It would be better that some tragic accident took their lives, instead of them taking their own due to someone’s insenstivity.

  19. Marilyn says:

    This was a great and powerful post MJ – thank you. I did one last week called Paper Sam and the Power of Words and someone’s comment brought up the “sticks and stones” quote. So absolutely false. The power of the tongue and inability to wipe away those hurts from people as much as we may want to. Thanks again.

    • mj monaghan says:

      I’m glad you weighed in on this post, Marilyn. In your extensive travels, do you see this issue in other cultures, as well? I would be vary curious to get your thoughts on what other cultures do in regard to their treatment of their fellow citizens. Thanks, Marilyn.

      • Marilyn says:

        I love this question…racism, bigotry, and cruelty have been a part of every culture that I’ve lived in/ or visited. One of my African American friends faced more prejudice than she ever has in her life in Egypt. It was a hard, hard journey. I actually think the US does a better job than most in this area. It’s that need to put down so we can be raised up. this warrants a longer discussion than a comment but thanks for continuing the dialogue.

        • mj monaghan says:

          That’s very sad about your friend facing so much prejudice in Egypt. I’m kind of surprised by that. But glad to hear we do a better job in the US, of course, not perfect.

  20. littlesundog says:

    MJ, this is an awesome and courageous post! I love reading all of the comments this post has prompted. I suppose in many ways, I feel very close to this subject as I have suffered harrasings and being picked on as a kid. At one point in life I came face to face with, slander and lies which can be devastating and most hurtful. I often feel disappointed by people in general. It is why I feel more connected to nature these days, and I find friendship with bloggers who create a better world. Fear drives people to the craziest places. Thank you for reminding all of us that we have a duty to promote love, and not turn away or be silent about the verbal slaughtering of others.

    • >and I find friendship with bloggers who create a better world.
      - Some not-known-to-me-in-person bloggers certainly made my life a little better with their posts! And that’s exactly what prompted me to cease waffling and attempt the same myself.

      >Thank you for reminding all of us that we have a duty to promote love,
      - Amen. We have even more resources today. It is heartening to see that all is not lost and that many of the bloggers I’ve encountered are, um, doing their duty.

      Kate

      • mj monaghan says:

        I second that – there are so many bloggers who promote respect and love, and make me better. They don’t go for the “me-first” attitude. It’s more, “what can I do to share, to help, to make things better.” I think that’s why I do things like type comments back to all of you that I genuinely care so deeply for, even though it’s after midnight and I just got done driving 8 hours. :)

    • mj monaghan says:

      I’m very sorry that you were harassed as a child. And for people to defame you is the height of ignorance. The fact that you still remember it, shows how deep the scars can go. Why do we love our pets so much? Because they love us unconditionally. They approve and respect us regardless. So glad that you have had the deers in your life to give you that sense of peace and oneness with nature. And thank you for sharing such a profound personal experience!

  21. Pamela says:

    That goes on so often, right under all of our noses. But even worse, right in clear view of us. Right in our faces, yet people are turning away. Thank you- I hope that our post is a wake up call.

  22. Barb says:

    Bigotry and judgment are the height of insecurity.
    Jasmine Guy quote.

  23. Sunshine says:

    I think it all begins at home MJ. Parents will say things like “they’re nothing but white trash,” “I’m going to punch the haole in the face,” “just nigger-rig the damn thing,” etc.
    I hear parents saying things like this in front of their children so why are we so surprised when things explode and get out of control?
    It all goes back to the parents and their prejudices. . . trickle down effect.
    The military soldier who committed suicide because of his Asian background was also a tragic story.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Very enlightening comment, Sunshine! It hurts to even read it, but you’re so correct. I’ve heard many expressions just like this from other parents when I was growing up. Fortunately, I did not have to hear that at home. I was blessed that way.

      I had not heard about the soldier. Very sad, indeed.

      • Sunshine says:

        I heard part of the story on NPR. Something like the other soldiers kept making fun of his Asian background and it drove the soldier to kill himself. I believe it was over in the Middle East somewhere. Yes, I agree. Sad, in this day and age.

  24. You’ve done a wonderful thing, I hope you’ve tweeted a link to it with a tag for suicide or bullying…this should be read ~

  25. Oh wow. This really isn’t your usual type of post. I don’t know why some people are so threatened by others choices.

    • mj monaghan says:

      No, it was quite a departure. So I thought it best to give a fair warning. I usually don’t have the emotional depth to capture a subject so difficult, but this really hit home since I coached one of his brothers.

  26. Why are some people so threatened by others’ choices … when it’s those others’ choices to make in life? This makes no sense to me.

    I thought we were members of a society that was founded on celebrating differences, on embracing diverse viewpoints and on sometimes shaking up the status quo.

    Stories like these make me afraid of the future that will greet my young children. I only hope we learn from these senseless losses.

    • mj monaghan says:

      It is very difficult to understand. There’s so much talk about tolerance, yet there’s so much intolerance – it happens with people who claim to be very conservative, as well as those who claim to be more progressive.

      Celebrating differences – yes, you’re right, we’re supposed to be the great melting pot, bringing the huddled masses, yearning to be free. We have a long way to go.

      Maybe our kids can help change the future, and we can help influence – positively – in the meantime.

  27. The Internet has made it easier for people to be mean, vicious and rude. All you need is to go to YouTube and read all those comments that may make you weep for humanity. Sadly, this bad attitude is carried over to the real life by many people, especially the younger generation. It’s so unfortunate. :(

    • mj monaghan says:

      Yes, this is the bad side of the internet. Makes it far too easy to give the haters a platform for their bigotry. Not sure where they went wrong – parents, teachers, self? It’s up to everyone to do their part to turn it around.

    • >The Internet has made it easier for people to be mean, vicious and rude. All you need is to go to YouTube and read all those comments that may make you weep for humanity.
      - Sadly true. I understand it is extremely easy to be a keyboard warrior, but I still cannot understand how someone is actually able to hurt another being deliberately, irrespective of whether they know the person or not. I have a fair idea of *why* people spew vitriol, but *how* they go through with it still hasn’t made sense.

      Kate

  28. Wicker says:

    I hate to hear of this loss. I have not forgotten my own youth as a “Tomboy”. In spite of all the positive role models young homosexuals, or whatever sexuals really, have these days, we still see sensitive people driven into self loathing, depression, and suicide. I have hope that someday this will stop and we humans can learn to accept each other as individuals with something special to offer even if we can’t agree on every little thing in the universe.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Good point about being a “tomboy,” I saw some ridicule happen with one of my sisters who was a tomboy as a child, but is a real girly-girl now.

      There seems to be an extreme insensitivity these days, and you’re right the self loathing, depression, and suicide issues are becoming very big today. We all have to do what we can whenever we can.

  29. Healthy Freedom says:

    …very sad that this is a reality and that it has hit so close to you… So many out there tearing other people down just to try and lift themself up.

    • mj monaghan says:

      That’s EXACTLY what I was trying to say: “…tearing other people down just to try and lift themselves up.” I even googled some of those words. Thanks for the right way of saying it.

  30. The one big thing travelling has taught me….and I’ve lived in the middle east, asia, europe, scandanavia…..is that the things we have in common outnumber the things that set us apart.

    Love and respect have become almost dirty words and yet we all need both.

    If I see someone being disrespected I speak up….I confront it….I didn’t always…but I realized that to stay silent is to condone that behavoir.

    Bigotry isn’t accustomed to being challenged and outed and it usually folds like a cheap suit :-)

    This is easy to say of course, and hard to do……I just think that we’ve all had enough of the hared no?

    • >Love and respect have become almost dirty words and yet we all need both.
      - It is not difficult to embody these traits and they feel so good, too. If only we gave these emotions a chance!

      We haven’t given up the fight, John (Lennon)!

      Kate

    • mj monaghan says:

      Ian, that’s so great that you call out those who are disrespecting others! And bigotry is seldom challenged as you say. Not many people would be willing to do what you’re doing in those situations. “Not my problem,” is the common stance. You know, if people can’t love someone, at least respect them, right?

      • Right MJ.

        The tipping point for me came at a cocktail party of all things. Small group of us talking. Another small group next to us having a totally different conversation except this one guy, was so LOUD I couldn’t help but be distracted and pulled into their conversation.

        Another member of that group was being so overtly and openly racist (and proud of it) that at first I couldn’t believe I was hearing it.

        I was petrified of calling him out but did anyway. I think the wine may have given me a little more courage than I would normally have. For better or worse, I decided then and there I will NOT be around people like that and stay silent.

        I felt dirty just listening to it, and I’m sure others did too.

        • mj monaghan says:

          Boy, Ian. That’s sticking to your guns in a difficult situation. So brave. Not many people would have done what you did, for sure. Thank you for doing your part.

  31. patricemj says:

    My arms are vibrating now after reading this.

    • mj monaghan says:

      You know I don’t get as emotional as this post, usually, but it called for a stronger depth than I’m typically capable of. I hope it conveyed what I was really trying to get across.

  32. hellenjc says:

    Enormously sad on reading this MJ.. mthere is an element of western society that is clearly out of control ( I can only speak of western culture but I’m sure other cultures have their own versions of this..
    There is such a lack of respect for others..sad, very sad..

  33. There is a history of depression in my family. Unfortunately – a few suicides accompanied it. To even write these two sentences forces up a swell of emotion that brings me to tears. Tragic.

    • mj monaghan says:

      I’m very sorry to have touched a raw nerve with your family history. I was certainly concerned about this when I wrote the piece. I hope your family finds peace regarding depression – it is so damn difficult. Thanks for sharing your personal situation – I know that must have been very hard for you.

  34. I am always saddened when reading about these things. Those that don’t understand choose to react in un sociable or un warranted ways. These behaviours usually come from lack of understanding…. or from parents (yes I’ll admit that one) and their behavious. Well written as usual MJ.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Yes, it is truly sad. People so hurt that they can’t go on. And your point about parents – and the same could be said for teachers, or other influencers – is true: It’s hard to pass on the right behaviors to those around us, if we don’t understand ourselves. Your comments are always spot-on!

  35. Jim says:

    We’ve always been this cruel. We just didn’t have as many ways to know about it before.

    • hellenjc says:

      I think you may be partially right Jim… 24hr news, internet, radio etc means we know everything about everything. is that a good thing? Probably not !

    • mj monaghan says:

      You know, Jim, that probably does call more attention to how predominant the issue is, for sure. I do think we have lost control of our self-control on the other hand, as well.

  36. Ironically much of the hate spews from the Christian Right. They miss the point that Jesus preached inclusiveness and Paul spread the message to Greeks and pagans as well.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Unfortunately, it’s on all fronts. There are extreme people on both sides of the fence who are intolerant of each other. I have trouble understanding that. And you’re 100% correct about Jesus and Paul. In fact, the hung out with the worst sinners of the day.

  37. I think we took a wrong turn along the way, glamorizing cruelty and hatred, and now we are seeing the repercussions more clearly. It makes me weep. But voices like yours have power to promote change. Keep writing.

    Lisa

    • mj monaghan says:

      I think you’re right, Lisa. It’s highlighted on talk shows in the standup monologues. How many times have our celebrities apologized for some cruel remark? It is very sad. Hopefully the people that need the wake up call will heed the warnings.

  38. Dana says:

    Hatred is so sad. Thank you for bringing awareness to the horrors of discrimination in your post today, MJ.

    • mj monaghan says:

      Still really irks me that someone gets treated this way. I just hope there are people who read this that really need the reminder.

      btw, I’m still fawning over your Bachelor-style post!! :)

  39. These events always upset me so much. I do not why we as a society choose to constantly focus on division. We are all people. We all need the same things for life. So sad.


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