Editorials have blamed the recent suicide of B.C. teen Amanda Todd, another victim of cyber-bullying, on our "culture of meanness." Apparently, we now live in a society where it's okay for a child to take her own life, tormented by the words and actions of other children. I am horrified. Edmund Burke once said "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing." Where are the good people?
Meanness and evil in our world isn't new. The barbaric treatment of slaves in the Roman coliseum, the gassing of Jews in the ovens at Auschwitz, the Salem witch trials, the slaughter of women and children by the Christian crusaders as they entered Jerusalem, 9/11 - our human history is full of atrocity.
There are those who would argue that we are incapable of sustaining justice and good. That wired into our DNA is the need to torture, kill, and maim. That we should accept the death of Amanda Todd as a regrettable, but unavoidable, casualty of human nature. These are usually the same people who argue that bullying is, in the end, a way to toughen up children, to prepare them for the brutal world they are about to enter. That life is a hierarchy based on power - and if you aren't sticking it to someone, someone else is sticking it to you.
These same people will also argue that we are animals - just look at nature. Brutality is the way animals deal with each other, a lion ripping apart its prey, giant apes killing their young, or crocodiles lying in wait for a thirsty wildebeest. It can't be helped. The weak are always devoured by the strong; Amanda Todd was weak, those who taunted her were stronger. The math, and human nature, was against her.
I think that's a crock. I think someone like Amanda Todd killed herself because good people did nothing. Or didn't do enough. Of course, we're animals but there's a reason we have a bigger brain. We have free will, we can make choices. We can choose to do nothing. We can choose to help. We can choose to say enough is enough. We can confront meanness. We can make sure that evil does not get a foothold. And we can strive to help the children in our lives get the message that goodness requires action.
H. Jackson Brown, author of A Father's Book of Wisdom, challenges parents to - "Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity they think of you." I wonder how often parents make that choice. Ask a teenager you know if they can name someone they admire for being good. A person with integrity, a fair person, a person they could model themselves after.
Let their answers inspire you to action.