I’m a big fan of Kathy Griffin; I love her irreverent brand of humor, and while her overly-botoxed face freaks me out, whenever she opens her mouth, I end up laughing.
So when I heard she was going to be on Larry King this evening, I was excited to see what crazy shenanigans she would pull this time.
Today, she wasn’t there to be funny. She was there with a lot of others to spread a message, and once I realized what the show’s topic was, I couldn’t turn away. They were there to raise awareness to a cause that is also extremely important to me: the issue of bullying, in particular, the bullying of LBGT youth.
Within the past week, 5 young, homosexual people have committed suicide after being subjected to cruel taunting and bullying. What really upsets me is that this is the number we know of because this week it has been receiving a lot of media attention, but I have to wonder how many other youths are driven to this point, and their stories are swept under the rug? And what about those who may not end their life, but suffer silently and fear for their safety?
I understand that some people may be religiously or culturally opposed to homosexuality, and I respect that; I don’t believe it is my place to tell a person what to believe on that matter. I do, however, believe that it is my place to say that bullying of any kind is never okay. It is never okay to taunt, tease, or threaten any person for who he or she is. If a person is morally opposed to another’s sexuality, hate the sin, not the sinner.
I’ve long believed that part of what makes me, well, me is a passion for defending those who are powerless or lack a voice. That passion is actually why I went into education, and teaching writing in particular. So it is no surprise that this would be an issue that is extremely important to me. I don’t expect everyone to carry the same passion that I do, but I do ask that if and when you witness a person being victimized, if you witness someone say or do something hateful and hurtful, do the right thing. Say something. Tell someone. Show compassion to that person being victimized. If you’re gutsy enough, stand up to that bully. Bullies are only powerful when the rest of us are silent or afraid.
This reminds me of a famous quote, from Elie Wiesel. If you don’t know who he is, look him up; I guarantee you will be inspired. Anyway, he once said:
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
No matter what your political, cultural, or religious beliefs are, remember that compassion is universal. Sometimes, a small act of compassion can be the bravest act.