As you know, any issues about children are close to my heart. When I hear of a child with a disability or injustice, my radar hones in and my total focus is on the child. Yesterday I heard a news story about an obese 11 year old boy who was tired of being bullied. We have seen many stories like this in the news. There have been many reports about the nice, quiet, nerdy student, who after years of abuse retaliates against the entire student body. When we hear a story like this, we immediately think why didn't someone do something? Why indeed.
Our hearts go out to the abused and the abusers. What can be done? Whose fault is it? How do we stop this? The 11 year old in the news story weighed 206 lbs. He had always been overweight and his parents admitted being enablers. He was teased unmercifully at school. He was unable to participate in normal childhood games. Limited by his weight, soon that all anyone saw. One day he had had enough of the teasing and limitations. He decided to get back at everyone who teased him and knew exactly how to do it.
Let's look at some options he had. He could tell his teachers. We often suggest that, although there is no proof it makes a difference. He could request anti-bullying programs be presented to the student body. Bullies learn so much at these programs. He could retaliate against the ones that hurt him. That turns him into one of them. He could talk to them and let them know how much their teasing hurts him. They care so much about his feelings. He could move to another school. Bullies are only in one school.
This bright 11 year old chose to reject these options for a more permanent solution. He lost weight. In fact he lost 85 lbs in one year. He decided to take away the object of their teasing. Now before anyone gets on their high horse, I am not saying that anyone deserves to be bullied. Absolutely not. There is never a justification for bullying. But this story is not about the bullying. It is about the solution. This child realized he could not change anyone else. He had no control over them, but he did have control over himself. So he changed himself. He stopped being a victim, began dieting and exercising, and became a healthy child. He now spends his time helping others, including his many friends, become healthy.
How much time do we waste being a victim rather than changing the situation? We are in a financial bind and can't afford the things we want or need. Our child is rebelious and breaking our hearts. Our marriage is less than satisfying. We all have issues and options. We can sit around and moan about it, retaliate, become depressed, or determined that God is against us. Or we can look at the situation, analyze it, determine what we can control, and take action. The point is, we can be a victim or a conquerer. Look at any situation. There may be only one thing that you can change, but that one thing can relieve at least some of your pain.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Fr Bertram Griffin -- 1932-2000