Thursday, 26 May 2016

Dignity and Respect (An Anti-Bullying Speech)



DIGNITY and RESPECT

It was his destiny to be born hundreds of generations down the line of life from Adam and Eve. Born one thousand, nine hundred and seventy‑three years after the birth of Christ himself. On the event of his birth, the three wise men were not there to bring precious gifts. But God himself still saw promise in this spark of life.

At the age of ten he would calmly stand in the house of his grandparents as it was slowly being torn apart from a fierce hurricane, reassuring everyone "it will be alright". He would stand witness to his mother speak of suicide. Haunted by such news he would repeatedly tell her "please, don’t do it”. He had an unlimited curiosity about the world around him. Indulging in his natural curiosity he spent his time excitedly taking apart t.v’s, radios, vcr's and some of his own toys to see how they worked.

Soon he learned of great leaders who changed the world and started from humble beginnings. Realizing that even he could, if he really wanted to, carry great potential. Rather bored by school itself, he would spend his day dreaming of how one day he would change the world in some awesome, profound way.

Unfortunately, the French revolution, the multiplication table, conjunctions and adjectives, just did not fall into his great plan to conquer all evils of the world. As a result his marks fell dangerously low, prompting his father to ingrain the belief in him that, "if you're not successful in school, you’ll never be successful in life".

Throughout his school life he would be going to many different schools across the country. Always being forced into the eerie situation of negotiating a new set of friends. Always being the new kid.

Soon after he turned sixteen his parents were finalizing a devastating divorce Consequently his mother promised him that his high school years would be in the country and that they would no longer move.

He greatly anticipated his high school life, remembering stories of d friends, have a good time and get good marks. Maybe even move onto college or even university. All of his life's potential seemed to rest on these last three years of high school life. This was his chance to be truly successful just as his father had ingrained in his mind.

Fate would very soon turn a very ugly face to him, for his inhibitions would do him no favors. Even though he was most motivated to make a legend out of his life. He was quiet, shy, easily intimidated and had a slight fear of large crowds.

And so on September First, nineteen ninety‑one his ugly fate quickly unfolded. He went on to do as he always had done, try to negotiate a new set of friends. Although he sensed something quite odd. It seemed that every time he tried to introduce himself, people seemed cold and uninterested. He thought to himself "there's over a thousand people in this school, is it possible that I have nothing in common with anyone?”And weeks started going by and there he was still alone with no friends. He had started feeling quite concerned. This had never happened to him before.

The situation only perpetuated itself, in the course of his classes the teacher would often say,” okay everyone split into groups”. And so the class would split into groups of three or four and often he would be left standing alone, faced with the embarrassment of being intentionally singled out.

He would in the course of his humility only hope the teacher would quickly assign him to any group to end his discomfort at the situation. But time and time again, history would repeat itself.

Every time the frightening words came,” okay split into groups”. There He would be once again standing by himself. His heart pounding hard, sweating and an uncontrollable blush that would cover his face with a bright red complextion.At times he tried to anticipate his move asking, "can I join your group?”But the words replied were usually quite harsh, "I don't want that goof in my group”

As months slowly dragged by he developed a fearful complex. He prayed every day to God before school, that in all of his classes in the day the teacher won't ask the class to split into groups.

The lunch bell ringing always brought a sense of relief to his worries at least for an hour. Too many times he found himself eating alone in the lunch room. So he would walk around asking others,” do you mind if I eat here?”The common reply would be "no, my friend is sitting here ", then they would laugh. He did find a group of people that didn't reject him at the lunch room table they just ignored him. And to him that was a better trade‑off.

So for the most part he would go to the library and read books. He noticed the library had chess games. He would set up the chess board and invite people to play against him. His hopes were that he could stir up a conversation throughout the game and maybe make a friend. He did manage to make two friends unfortunately neither was in his grade so it had no effect on his overall status.

His social situation still looked quite dreadful. He kept trying to build friendships with others over chess but as it would seem that he would make another friend, others would approach that person to deter them with throbbing statements like,” don’t hang with him, he’s a nerd nobody likes him "

It was severely disturbing to him that other people would almost anything to deter others from being his friend.

"These are my high school years they are supposed to be my best years”. This ideal he so much anticipated was smashed, obliterated utterly destroyed beyond comprehension.

The utter ugliness of the situation was only reinforced as people would approach him in the halls to remind him of his lowly status,” nerd, goof, faggot, loser “, and whatever other harsh label they put on him.

They even went to the extreme of spreading ridiculous rumors about him and constantly threatening him.

He found himself with no choice but to accept his ugly reality,” nobody likes me ".He realized that he was, what nobody wanted to be, 'the social outcast’.

He tried to escape his painful reality by skipping school and taking up dancing. Hip Hop and Break d thrilling thing a person could do, he thought.

Skipping school and working on dance moves soon became a habit in itself. This became a way of life to him but the situation only worsened. On the days when he did catch the school bus to go to school he would take his seat for the forty‑minute ride. The other people on the bus took the opportunity of throwing things at him, pennies, pencils, books and sometimes they would even spit on him. The pressure was building and because of all the school he had skipped his marks were dangerously low.

When school finished for the day he would be at home contemplating his pathetic existence, to take his mind off it since it was becoming unbearable he started doing push‑ups.

And so after school he would faithfully do his push‑ups in whatever sets he could handle. And of course practicing his dancing. Now his only pleasure was his push‑ups, wich he was getting better at, and his dancing.

Just after his eighteenth birthday he started going to night clubs to dance, this gave rise to a most ugly dilemma. Now he had his mother and the school authorities who insisted he did not miss school to deal with, and if he went to school he would have to deal with the students who worked at their popularity at his expense, making fun and jokes about him was the new fad.

After almost two years of this horrid situation he made his decision,” not to attend school, until they put him into another school”. For there seemed to be no resolution to his problem, at this point whenever he stuck up for himself, the threats against him only got worse.

But this was not the end of his efforts for in the last months he danced in school, sometimes he even went to school dances but was always laughed at and mocked. At one time he even asked a newly formed dance crew at school if he could join and was rejected with "you're a loser".

His last efforts did not end there for he had quite a natural gift for drawing. In exhibiting his gift for drawing to win people's approval they often seemed jealous and accused him of paying others to have drawn it for him.

Fortunately they did transfer him to another school where to his benefit there were only two months until summer. Though not enough time for history to repeat itself.

So as summer kicked in he became convinced in every which way that no matter how true to himself he was, nobody would like him. It was his reality that people did not like who he was as a person. I mean let's consider, day after day, week after week, month after month, people went out of their way to tell him,” you’re a loser, you’re a nerd, you’re a goof”.


So he contemplated his future where he would always be pushed around or stepped on and of course single all of his life. He did not want that kind of life so he decided maybe he could win people's approval by being really good at something.

His‑first obsession was his push‑ups. He kept track and started breaking all sorts of obscure push‑up records. Night after night he would try to do more than he did the night before. When he went dancing at the night clubs he would practice his moves over and over. Constantly asking other good dancers,” how do you do that?”

However to his dismay he had no talent for dancing and absolutely no rhythm. And yet his easy going humbled nature and his passionate love for dance aroused an enthusiastic approval from those in the night clubs. This new‑found approval stirred feelings within him. He decided that he would not live up to this negative image given to him in school. He would not be the wimpy, goofy nerd that he was unjustly labeled as. So he religiously practiced his dancing, and did what ever he could to build friendships with other good dancers. And every time he danced he would ask others "did I do good?”But his progress in dancing was quite slow.

After some time the real world showed him more affection than he ever had in school. Out of this and his new‑found approval grew within him a certain kind of anguish towards his past in school.

He started to look for opportunities to show those from his past that he was not a wimpy goofy nerd. His so‑called potential and enthusiasm granted him this opportunity.

He joined an inner city dance crew "The Magoo Crew”. The leader "Mr. Magoo” believed he had potential. In a short time now being "Dancer Magoo" he danced with the others on a first‑time television show,” Dance TV”. In that occasion he felt exhilarated dancing on Channel 1O.And helping his crew bring home second place in a hip hop, rap contest.

Even though he only had five minutes of fame, he thought it was absolutely the sweetest revenge one could have.

After some time his name was mentioned in a newspaper article about The Magoo Crew. This time as “Nine Nine Nine Magoo”. Not to mention a group picture of The Magoo Crew appeared in the Edmonton Journal.

And by no means was he even the best dancer but it was sweet. And to top it off he even got to be the Edmonton Sunshine Boy.

But he still kept at his push‑ups and started writing letters to Guinness. He figured if his name was in the book of world records that would be awesome revenge.

He wrote dozens of letters, with no replies until one day. Charles Servizio, who did 46,001 push‑ups in a single day, wrote him a letter.

Servizio said he was touched by the letter he received which was about doing a twelve hour push‑up marathon to raise money for charity. From that point on they would speak many times over the phone.

The record holder told him that he had heart and definitely had the potential to one day set a new record. And so doing his push‑ups became serious to him.

He pursued his hopeful ideology with personal dance demo's and updating his records until he reached the age of 25 years.

Once‑again this hopeful ideology of revenge by out‑doing those who mocked and betrayed him was smashed.

The anger within him was hurting too much, the revenge was not satisfying. He was still haunted by his past; the horror was still with him. He even had nightmares of being in class not being able to understand the teacher then the students would start to beat him with bats.

He started to realize that he had not seen those who haunted him in school for a long time. He started thinking,” What if, they never saw me in the paper or on television?”, “Who even reads the paper?” he thought.

He would always have hoped to resolve his own issue. After all they stole a piece of him, that he never could get back. His dignity and respect. How could he ever resolve his issue if he could never confront those who betrayed and wronged him?

He quickly realized dancing is just dancing. And who cares how many push‑ups one could do?

It was evident from his nightmares that when forced into a social situation, failure was his inevitable fate. Depression hit him hard, his reality now,” to be or not to be ".He decided "not to be”. He brought himself to the bravest moment of his life; He knew that there would be no turning back. He grabbed the pills, his heart pounding, his hands sweating and shaking. He swallowed all of them.

He slowly fell asleep, now God himself with the last word would decide if there was any point.

The story I told is the true story of my very best friend, a person who loves me more than anything in this world. And he is here today standing on this podium. Speaking to you.

Thank you
by: Darryl Learie 
Edited and Co-Authored by, John Thompson (Professor of English, University of Alberta) 

September 30 1998