I work in quite a few elementary schools, and today, I found myself in one of them. A little Title I school. I've spent a few hours there, so I've gotten to know some of the kids. Today, the teacher announced that we would be watching a live broadcast about bullying, given by Nick Vujicic. You know, the youtube sensation who's sweeping not only the nation but the world.... he was born with no arms and no legs, and has a ton of motivational videos.
Well, he's in Utah for a while, and today, he spoke at a middle school, and it was broadcasted all over. We had the privilege of watching him speak today. And it was amazing.
As mentioned, he addressed bullying. He talked about his life and how he was bullied. He talked about how he missed out on being friends with some people because of the way he looked. He asked them if the people watching would be his friend. My class shouted at the screen "YES!"
"Really? Even though I look different?"
"That doesn't matter to you?"
The next part broke my heart. A classroom full of eight year olds. He asked the audience to close their eyes and raise their hand. My kids did that. He told them to hold their hand up, and close it into a fist if the answer to any of the questions he asked was yes.
"Have you ever felt like giving up? Have you ever considered ending your life?"
And about four of those beautiful little eight year olds, with shaking arms and trembling fingers closed their hands into fists.
Why does this happen? Why do our children look at themselves in the mirrors and see themselves for less than they are? Why did that beautiful little four year old in my preschool class lose the smile on her face and sigh as she said her black hair wasn't beautiful, it was boring.
I've gotta say, one of the reasons I was so excited to color my hair so dark was so I could run to school and hold her in my arms and say "Look, Q.... My hair is dark now too. And I love it, just like I love yours. I wanted to be like you."
To reference another speaker, a teacher.... I want to make these kids, I want to make EVERYONE write "Definitely Beautiful, Definitely Beautiful, Definitely Beautiful" OVER AND OVER again until they never misspell it, and they never think any different of themselves.
And now for the part when you look at yourselves. Yes. You are Definitely Beautiful. It is a miracle that you are here. When you think about all that can go wrong in the physical make up of a person's body... it's a miracle that you are you. It truly is.
And because it's a miracle, because you are blessed, you have a duty.
Too long, we have been fighting the war on bullying. Why is that? I think it's because we go to school and we say "Stop bullying! Be nice to each other! You! Yeah you! Don't bully! It's bad!" But we do nothing about it in ourselves. Our efforts are spent trying to prevent it in others, but nothing is done to prevent it in ourselves.
Did you know that the majority of people say they wouldn't tease if they hadn't been teased themselves? Do you know what that means? It means if bullying never started, it wouldn't have ever happened. Obviously. We can't do anything to stop it from already having happened, but we can start now to make sure it never happens again.
Stop teasing. I tease. I poke fun at my siblings. I've poked fun at friends. I've said things to people in hurtful ways because I was feeling hurt. But those thoughts that leave your mind echo out in other people's minds for days and weeks and years. Hateful words spread through a body worse than cancer.
Stop teasing. Join with me. You are Definitely Beautiful. But you're not the only one. Everyone around you is Definitely Beautiful. You would cry to see how many people would close their fists when they thought no one was looking to say "Yes, I wish I could give up."
We can fight bullying. But it doesn't begin in our schools. It begins with you. It begins with you telling yourself you're nothing less than the best, and then going out and giving nothing less than your best. Cheering on and cheering up instead of laughing when others make mistakes.
No more teasing. I'm taking a pledge today to personally end bullying. I can't change the world, I can't make everyone do this, but I can make myself do this. And you can join with me too. All it takes is a conscious decision in yourself. You are Definitely Beautiful.