Words of Faith

Rev. Kev’s writing published quarterly in The Desert Sun

When I was in sixth grade, my mother was called into a conference with my teacher. The reason was to figure out why I didn’t want to go outside to recess. That parent-teacher conference revealed that on the playground I was bullied.

The schoolyard tough was much smaller than me. With the help of his buddy pack, he cornered me daily to burn my arm with punches. My nature didn’t fight back. And my young faith in the Golden Rule — doing onto others as I wanted others to do onto me — thwarted retaliation.

I was a lucky kid then. My parents and teacher realized the situation and took steps to fix it. The bully was rebuked; I was freed of daily fear. The détente was successful because adults took responsibility for ensuring safety and peace. Later I learned my internalized Golden Rule grew from Christian Gospel seeds and sprouted from ancient Jewish Torah roots. The rule’s precepts glisten in hordes of world religious principles circulating among nations. It seems rational to expect people to hear of it and abide by it. But reality shows this precious rule barely permeates society. We still endure violence and bullies remain the lowest common denominator among human aggressors.

There will always be wars and rumors of wars, scriptures warn. But such a caution doesn’t justify the conflagrations. It tells us to focus on keeping local peace since the world is beyond our control. But I wonder; will bullies have to be tolerated always? Recent news reports unveil regular suicides by bullied teens, typically gay. As parents and friends grieve the loss of loved ones, bullies continue to intimidate where Golden Rule principles are ignored. Now is the time for parents, teachers and religious leaders to renew and teach the eternal human contract: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Could this possibly mean bully so you can be bullied? I don’t think so. Could this mean that bullying is sanctified by loving parents, good teachers and faithful preachers? No.

Religious leaders and parents need to take responsibility along side teachers to ensure that schools and societies are not permeated with torment. Preachers need to suspend the tolerance of anti-gay religious teaching so that the license to preach is no longer a license for abuse. The bully pulpits of classrooms, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples must stop idolizing the bullies in the pulpit.

The Golden Rule is the most precious commodity we have. When enacted, the goodness of all will stifle the bullies and heal wounded souls. That will be the great time to which all faiths aspire, living well in our communities. We are invited by all that is good to be living that time now, on earth as it is in heaven.