One repeating issue I've found to be linked throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years is on the bus, in the lunchroom, in hallways, and even in the classroom in front of the teacher who doesn't take the time to notice. This issue is bullying, and even more so, those who choose to ignore it. If knowledge of a crime is just as criminal as executing it, then what's the difference? No one says you have to save the world, but this doesn't justify looking the other way when there is a chance for moral intervention.
The need to belong to the most dominating group is an innate human characteristic. Some will go to any extent just to fulfill this need, but from an early age I developed my own leadership and refused to join in on the taunting-regardless of how I'd be viewed. This was perhaps the first value I discovered and felt so strongly about. It mostly began in first grade when I stood up for my neighbor on the school bus even though I was younger than the bully. The mere thought of someone taking advantage of another's weakness disgusted me. It didn't seem like a big deal to me, but when I received a phone call from her father thanking me, I realized how a small gesture could have such an impact on someone. It proves how one moment of risking your reputation will seem inconspicuous to you years later; however, it could be completely different for the person you defended. The next year there was a girl in my class who was socially exiled just because of her ethnic appearance. When others talked to me about her behind her back, I simply ignored them, became her friend, and found she was the kindest girl I met that year. I accompanied her while she ate lunch in the principal's office since no other table would accommodate her. From this experience I found that nothing was more touching than seeing the grateful look on her face since she knew I did not do it out of pity but rather I took the chance to see her in a different light.
When I was in seventh grade I was the only girl in a class full of boys. The teacher closed her eyes to everything that happened to me that yearwhen I was helpless to stand up to the harassment, where was someone else? The sinking feeling of looking around for help and seeing everyone literally turn their head was something I never want to face again and would never wish it on anyone else. Another great deal of my independence stemmed from the following realization: never expect to depend on anyone but yourself, but the next time you have a chance to extend a hand without placing yourself in grave danger, remember how it feels to know somebody was once there for regardless if you could have dealt with it. Although I felt somewhat betrayed by the "karma mantra", it had no effect on my core value or the wrath I feel when I see someone bullied. In my eighth grade class there was a boy who put a sign on the kid's back next to me. This boy bullied him enough and I couldn't tolerate keeping quiet about it while everyone else just watched. I quietly took the sign off his back and the boy tried to make fun of me too and was even ready to punch me because I threatened his position. If nobody else in this class agreed with what he was doing to get attention, why was I not assisted in giving a voice to the kid next to me?
The paralyzing fear which dominates us while witnessing something as unjust as bullying comes from selfish concern. Nobody expects us to, but if we could push ourselves to drop this concern at least for the few moments it takes to make a difference, who knows what an impact it would make on daily life? I am not by far a saint, nor do I write this essay to boast about my courage in "saving" people's trauma. I do, however, stay loyal to my strongest value because the beliefs you instill in yourself are the most powerfully executed and can touch upon so many lives; and this is not something that can be taught through any organization. It first comes from standing by who you are and knowing your viewpoints, and how you can use them to benefit others.