“Raise your hand if you’ve ever been bullied?” I had other plans for Kids Club that day, but was inspired to ask this question after I witnessed a couple of our kids exposing the weakness in the other in order to get a couple laughs from their friends. Ian proudly smirked as his hand stayed down. “You’ve never been bullied?” I asked. “Nope”. Of course Ian is forgetting the time I actually witnessed him get bullied to the point of tears by some of our older kids a few months ago. Still, he was playing it tough. He made it clear that he was the bully, not the bullied.
The Biblical Prophets are full of the call to remember. Israel was taking bullying to an extreme. They were oppressing people within their kingdom. They were ignoring the cries of the poor, widows, and orphans among them. The prophets understood how crazy it was that the same rag tag slaves who God had rescued from the oppressive Egyptian empire were now repeating the cycle of abuse.
Ian was forgetting his own wounds. I told him about the time I made fun of a girl in my class with a lazy eye. My friends called her a “cross-eyed bitch”, and I laughed along. I had forgotten my own wounds too. When those friends of mine weren’t making fun of her, they turned their attention toward me, because of my all too noticeable stutter. In a moment when I had the chance to extend love and affirmation, I bought into the lie that I was protecting myself by laughing along.
Remembering our own wounds is painful work, but it is necessary. It helps us to remember our planks, rather than obsess over “their” speck of sawdust. It helps us to remember our own inner poverty, rather than think ourselves better than the materially poor. It helps us remember that we are all in this together, and there is no need for anyone to throw the first stone.
Ian walked away from our conversation pretending not to care. I have decided to take a bit of comfort in the fact that he hasn’t openly made fun of anyone in Kids Club for the past few weeks. May we all remember our own wounds. May that remembering help us to pass along healing instead of continuing the cycle of violence.
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