Yesterday was 'pink shirt' day in Canada.
It's a day where we are asked to wear pink shirts as an anti-bullying statement.
I'm glad there is such a day, I'm glad that people are responding to the issue of bullying, I'm glad of all that.
The focus, though, I think needs to either shift or broaden if we ever are going to do anything effective, anything other than be symbolic about bullying.
As a fat kid I was bullied, on a routine basis.
As a fat adult I experience a different kind of bullying, but bullying nonetheless.
And while I hold only the bully accountable ...
... part of me, a big part of me, wants to make silence accountable. I remember one incident, that I don't wish to share here with you, where a crowd watched me being hurt and humiliated by two bullies. They stood and watched. I knew many of the people in that crowd to be good people. I had thought they were good people. But they stood silent and let it happen.
Later they tried to comfort me.
But I didn't need their words then.
I needed them before.
One of my biggest and most powerful memories of school was when a boy, so far above my status within the school hierarchy that we almost never even breathed the same air, broke from a group, that watched, and grabbed the person who had me on the floor, pinned down, and yanked him away from me. He told that kid that he was to leave me alone, that he was never to touch me again. I, still, all these years later remember that moment with clarity.
He wasn't silent.
He did what people who say they are anti-bullying need to do.
Anti-bullying isn't a sentiment and isn't expressed by wearing a symbol. It's an action.
While those who wear pink shirts need to be lauded, and I do laud the movement and the symbol and the history behind it. Their focus needs to be on the bully, and on the silence which is the fertile soil in which violence grows..
Silence is consent.