As time went by, my anger subsided and so did my need to take it out on people. Part of it was the fact that I simply grew up, but I found something that made me feel even better than hurting others, something that turned the pain into productivity. Kindness. Yes, Instead of bullying those weaker than me, I spent my free time at school volunteering with the disabled, and on weekends, I went to the County Home to help with the elderly. The pain never truly went away, but my need to inflict it on others did.
I still have some residual anger left over from childhood and as my ex would say, I have quite a mouth on me. I don’t consider myself a bully, but more of a crusader. Living in a privileged community, I see people being bullied every day. I’ve had women use their Range Rovers to block me because they wanted my prime parking space, I've been pushed out of line at the deli because someone didn't want to be late for a nail appointment, and someone tried to start a fight with me at the gym because she wanted spot on the workout floor. The baristas, the checkout people, the waitresses and waiters, even the moms at school, so many are endlessly abused.
When this happens, sometimes I stand up to them and sometimes I don’t, and on each occasion I don’t feel as sorry for myself and the victims of the cruelty, as I do for the inflictors. There’s not a designer handbag you can fill with happiness, not a luxury car that will take you on that proverbial road. I know firsthand that most of these bullies are acting out of anger and grief just as I had once done as a child. They think it makes them feel better when in fact, at the end of the day, they feel much, much worse. But this is LA, so they are very good at masking it beneath all that sunshine and tinsel.
In the city of Anaheim, Ca, Mayor Tom Tait deemed 2013 as the Year of Kindness. It was an initiative to get more citizens to volunteer and simply be kind to each other. The “One Million Acts of Kindness” campaign was brought into the schools and soon, kids were performing good deeds, and these were tallied by their teachers and very quickly, they reached the goal of a million acts. Now, Anaheim truly is the “Happiest Place on Earth” and it isn’t only because of Disneyland.
Mayor Tait’s plan for kindness created a rippling effect throughout the community, and it also captured the attention of the Dalai Lama. In June, His Holiness will attend the United States Conference of Mayors and speak to mayors from all over the country about the importance of kindness and compassion. Who knows, perhaps in a few years time, Mayor Tait’s Kindness Campaign will be introduced into schools everywhere.
I’m sure not many people outside of Anaheim know of Tait’s Kindness Campaign even though leaders throughout the word do. What we do know of is the perpetuation of the cycle displayed on reality shows such as The Housewives series, even The Bachelor, which encourages contestants to play up the drama, and that typically means to be nasty. This is what people are watching, this, to many, is entertainment.
One of the music industry’s greatest all time entertainers, Lady Gaga, started the Born This Way Foundation. Its mission is “supporting the wellness of young people, and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.” It’s a well-known fact that she grew up being bullied, but what’s more impressive than her survival of it is that she uses her celebrity, not to preserve the cycle, but to create everlasting change. She is a true role model for our youth and an amazing performer to boot.
As long as there is anger, there will be bullying. When my daughter was targeted, I told her my story and instead of resenting the girl who tormented her, she showed her compassion and now they are friends. It saddens me that by the time a Kindness Campaign is introduced into the schools nationwide, my children will most likely be out, but it also gives me hope that there are those out there, such as Mayor Tom Tait, the Dahli Lama and Lady Gaga who use their influence to educate and to make the world a better place. As Mayor Tait showed us, all it takes is one simple act of altruism to create an infectious explosion of compassion. It may not eradicate bullying, but it certainly will bring more kindness into the world. It did for me.