I would love to one day go to Times Square and stand in the glow of all those screens and signs. There would be no time like the present to do that. Why this month? Because during November, two young Tecumseh residents will have their 39 second work entitled “Pull the Plug on Bullying” viewed on the CBS Superscreen in Times Square. K.J. Proulx and Matt Bendo entered a contest with Trend Micro. This video highlights the dangers of cyber-bullying and shows the weightiness of words. The video is only 39 seconds but it is a very powerful and effective medium to discourage bullying.
Tecumseh should be proud of Matt and K.J. for their achievement because what they have created is reaching out beyond our town to the world’s largest stage. The message developed by these creative young minds? STOP the abuse, the hurt and the pain, and pull the plug on bullying. It is powerful to imagine that this video will be viewed within miles of The George Washington Bridge, where 18-year-old Rutgers’ student Tyler Clementi took his life after being very publicly outted via cyber bullying. Earlier this year, a 15-year-old Massachusetts’ girl took her life after at least nine teens bullied her online for months unchecked.
I am a survivor of bullying. The internet was not a factor in the 80s but the hurt and pain of the words were the same. The people who loved me the most helped me through the pain of bullying. Along with family, I had friends who, like K.J. Proulx and Matt Bendo, were appalled by bullying and stood up for me. Plato insisted that “Courage is a kind of salvation.” The encouragement of others gave me courage to face my fears and go on. I cannot imagine how much harder it must be today with email, Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Skype, Blogs … and the list goes on. How much harder it must be to face bullies when so many of them are faceless. This virtual message from two of our own is a great way to stand up to bullies and to encourage us to get involved in what is happening online with young people. K. J. and Matt’s message will hopefully instill courage in all of us to stand up to bullies. This is National Bullying Awareness Week. So let us be aware. We need to watch out for our children. When we see inappropriate words being tossed about online we need to be prepared to “Pull the Plug.”
What we know is that God calls us to respect the dignity of EVERY human being, knowing that people are created in the image of God. As a people of God we seek than to call out bullies who disrespect, hurt, and strip away the dignity of those they see as different. Each child of God is beloved. We hope to remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 – “Just as you have done this to one of the least of these, you have done it to me.” – and more to the point when it comes to bullying “just as you did NOT do this to one of the least of these you did NOT do it to me.” We cannot be silence in the face of bullying and abuse. We seek to honour the face of God as it is found in others and we do so by speaking up for the weak and the vulnerable.
You can see the award-winning video mentioned above at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOwArod2d0s