Katelyn Nicole Davis (Dolly) 12 years old. She shared her heart with us, wanting some reassurance, and we showed her the ugliest part of being human – that part within humans, where they believe that everything is a competition and that they can only win by making sure someone else loses.
How does a 12-year-old make the decision to end her life and do so, exiting out of it with a string of apologies for letting everyone down? What did we expect from her? How could her life come and go and seem to mean so little to this world? Such a beautiful, sweet girl. Look at her. How fitting is her nickname of “Dolly?” Most of us will feel terrible about this little girl committing suicide and we will look at the actual people who did this to her in a “them” and “me” type of lens, but we all contributed to this and the many other cases of bullying that goes on everywhere.
Every time we model a way of behaving and acting that reinforces the idea that someone has to lose in order for you to really win, we feed those who cannot police their own actions enough to see that what they are doing is destroying another human being. When someone gets to the point where they can see and hear the pain of their “victim” and they feel no empathy that suggests they should stop what they are doing, THAT person is capable of this and so much more. The pathetic thing is, the perpetrators are even bigger cowards, struggling with insecurities, than the people they bully.
So parents, when you joke and laugh about how you got even or will get even with someone who crossed you, take a look at where your children are and if they are ANYWHERE in the house with you, they can probably hear you. When you talk about other people in negative ways … check again. Think about your life, your career, the sports you play – can you win and lose with grace or is it a drama fest either way? How we treat others teaches our children everything about themselves and about how they should act towards others, except it is amplified because their emotions are still all mixed up and their self-control will be several years in the making.
Consider that when you make a casual remark, at the expense of someone, how it can feed someone in your adult circle who may already have lost their empathy. If they admire you they gain a sense of their reactions being acceptable. While you might not ever bully a child for fun, they might. Consider all the times you see bullying going on, even when it is not life and death, and you say or do nothing. Consider all the times we are bullied ourselves on our social media by supposed “friends” and how we struggle to “not make a big deal of it.” What message are we sending?
WE HAVE CREATED A WORLD WHERE BULLYING IS PART OF THE SOCIAL INTERACTION. We have made room for it. We live with it, and while we may not be happy about it, we have come to accept it is there, just as we accept that cockroaches exist and are probably in our house. One person cannot spray and watch diligently, protecting their lives from the insects while all the other neighbours are lax and uncaring about the problem. No matter how hard one person works you cannot keep your house safe if no-one else is trying. Everyone has to do their part.
So today, for Katelyn, make a resolution for zero tolerance in your life. Police YOUR actions and reactions and take the time to talk to your kids and family about a 12-year-old who ended up committing suicide. So many discussions that need to happen right now, but let’s do it differently today. Instead of focusing on the “victims” and preaching to them about internet safety, let’s target the bully’s and commit ourselves and our families to insisting on a different attitude. No one is meant to “win” when it comes to life, not under the definition of being the biggest or the fastest, the first, or the prettiest, the wealthiest or the most powerful. That type of winning is for competitions where everyone entering knows there can only be one winner and they are all trained for the battle to do exactly that. We all have a life. We can all be successful, beautiful, rich, etc etc. We can actually make it there faster by stopping and helping one another. It is more enjoyable when we share the experience with others. LIFE is NOT a competition. LOVE is not a limited supply. COMPASSION expands and grows, breathing life into all of us, every time we flex even the smallest part of it into our actions.
Katelyn should have been met with some reassurance that she was beautiful. She should have felt the wall of love that is now enfolding her and her devastated family. Why do we always wait until it is too late to show we care. If Katelyn could see today, how much she matters, would it have made a difference?