Sunday, January 11, 2004

Confessions

So many atrocities committed, and so little time to atone for them...
Can't say I'm proud of everything I've done. If I were to write a volume of "Confessions," a la Rousseau, it would contain a good many more deep and shameful secrets than his big three. But early on I decided I would rather live with regrets for things I did, rather than for those I didn't do. Prevention and caution can lead one to lead much too sound and dreary an existence.
Among my many misdeeds, and trust me, I've much to account for, I often feel pangs of guilt for specific acts of bullying or torment that I either participated in or personally exerted upon others when I was only a child.
As an adult it is shocking for me to see the behavior of a bully among other children. I fail to comprehend how kids can be so cruel to each other. The taunting and teasing...making fun of other children because of the way they look or dress. It's hard for me to understand now, although I'm shamefully admitting that I was on the dishing end of that equation in the schoolyard.
I feel guilty about it, and part of me would like to go back and apologize to all those kids I may have hurt. But the other part of me works hard at trying to clear my conscience and convincing myself that it's part of growing up, and we all have to go through it - that I have no right to blame myself for choosing a role traditionally cast by fate for centuries before me. Perhaps my remorse now is payment enough. I'm burdened with an inescapable feeling of guilt for things I did before I had full use of my faculties. But if any of my victims was emotionally scarred, or became withdrawn and unhappy as adults because of something I may have said or done, I can't imagine any form of misery would be payment enough.
It is important that we teach our children to be fair. Growing up is hard enough without having to deal with bigger kids threatening to beat you up all the time. It all starts at home. In the way we behave toward them and allow them to participate in the decision making process of daily problems that directly affect them. You can permit your household to have a moderate version of democracy, while still retaining the power to have the final word. Let our children know that everybody counts, and everybody's voice is important. Maybe then they can grow up with more tolerance for each other, and the world will only be better for it.