The story of Keaton Jones has gone viral. Keaton is bullied at his Tennessee middle school, and he made a heartbreaking and powerful video telling you all about it.
I wasn’t bullied much as a child, but enough to remember. I wasn’t the bully much as a child either, but that’s what sticks with me much more now. I can only claim immaturity. I have no defense for the behavior. As I said in my Rocket City Mom piece:
I think back to those times I bullied someone else now, and I wish I could tell you I remembered it as cathartic. If I had derived some emotional or mental relief from it, it wouldn’t justify it, but at least it would be a little more understandable. Alas, no. I did it as mindlessly as it was done to me, my empathy circuit firing minimally or not at all.
I have reached out to three of the four people I bullied—the ones I could locate—and eventually heard back from all three. Each of them thanked me for reaching out, and each of them forgave me. Each of them seemed to be a happy and well-adjusted adult. I’m thankful for that, as well as their forgiveness.
No adult in my life at the time was aware I was bullying these kids. I don’t know whether they told their parents or not. Whatever the case, I bullied with impunity. It’s a good thing I didn’t have more of a taste for it.
The problem is on more hearts, minds, and lips these days, and that’s a good thing. But you know kids still get through the cracks. At the end of his rope, Keaton made a video. What would he have done without a supportive mother? Without the chutzpah to craft a powerful message?
I think we’re spending a lot of sociocultural energy right now on stupid crap; on problems that are either greatly overstated or not problems at all. I don’t think bullying is one of those. I think bullying is worthy of every bit of attention it gets.
Even jaded old jackasses like me like to keep at least a candle or two of hope lit. If we are to entertain the idea of genuinely improving the human condition, how can this not be a primary input into it?
Thank you, Keaton. Hang in there, big man.