When I was growing up bullying was common and it seemed that teachers knew it was happening and considered it a normal part of child development. Where I went to school you there were many options for after-school sports. There was basketball, football, wrestling, golf, chess club and of course cheerleading. It seemed to me like the other popular sport was chasing me home from school or arranging to beat me up. Sometimes it seemed like there were people who were trying to earn a letter in bullying. I got beat up on the way home from school regularly. Some of those stories to this day are painful to recount.
That’s one reason I was especially protective of my little brothers when they were small. I tried to make sure no one bullied them. One day I was backing out of the driveway in my light blue VW Superbeatle. I saw my little bother Kevin rounding the corner on his bike. I smiled… until I saw the look on his face. He was troubled. He was staining to peddle as fast as he could. There were a group of boys on a basketball court who, when they saw him coming, stopped play and entertained themselves by pelting him with ice balls. The hardened snow hit him over and over again and he struggled to get home, trying to peddle his bike. The sadistic little bullies laughed and intensified their barrage.
I sped down to where the boys were playing basketball and drove through the yard and up onto the court. I stopped the car and jumped out. Shocked they stopped throwing ice balls for a moment.
I said, “If you want to throw snowballs, why don’t you throw them at me?” (I don’t know what I would have done if they had, but my bluff worked). They all stood looking at me and one by one dropped their snowballs. My little brother stopped his bike and got off to watch the action. I noticed the look of fear was gone and there was a big smile on his face. Suddenly the little group of bullies had lost interest in throwing snowballs.
I said; “Don’t let me find out you are bothering him again. He’s my brother and if you bother him, I’m going to come and find you.”
We all long for a protector who comes to meet us and to defend us when we are struggling toward home. Hats off this week for all those who have devoted themselves to protecting those who are weak. Protectors are a special breed of strong people who have devoted themselves to the defense of those who are weaker. If good people are not strong, bad people who are strong will oppress all who are weak. Those of us who have any opportunity left to do so should train the young men in our lives to be strong, valiant, skilled protectors.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
Riverfront Character Inn
March 1, 2004