Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I was a small kid, one of the smallest in my class.  Walking home from school was an adventure. A couple of the older kids would have fun at my expense.  Nothing major, just kid stuff, pushing me down and laughing, like that.
One day my dad drove up while this was occurring. I'm not sure if he planned it, or if it was just chance, but it felt like a guardian angel had come to my aid.
He gave them a tongue lashing.
The bullying stopped.

Flash forward a few years to 6th grade. Kevin was one of the few kids in my class who was smaller than I was, what we would now call a nerd.  On top of that, he was always so pale and sickly looking.
George was the class bully.  He never bothered me, I think because I was good at sports so I fit in.
Kevin, he did not fit in, and George picked on him bad.
Usually, when the bullying started, George's crew would cheer him on and the rest of us would stand on the outskirts, knowing that it was wrong, but afraid to say anything.

One day I snapped.  Maybe it was the memories of being bullied, maybe the feeling that by doing nothing, I was still being bullied, I don't know.  But on this day, I stood up to George.
I was no match.
He was bigger, he was stronger.
My only fight in school did not go well.
The nuns broke it up, George got in trouble, and I gained the respect of George and the rest of the class.

Keven is probably a tech giant now. Poor George lived hard and is no longer with us.

I can fall back into the victim role if I am not careful, but if you bully those I care about, or push me too far, I get my Irish up.

In 2011 it happened at work.  They pushed and pushed and pushed, and 350 Registered Nurses, most who had never stood up for themselves before, most who had never been in a union, stood up, stood tall, stood together and against great odds, against Jackson Lewis union busting law firm, against millions of dollars spent against us, formed the Backus Federation, and gained a voice for ourselves and our patients.

It happened again in 2013, when our brothers and sisters at L+M hospital faced a hospital that had lost it's way. Our brothers and sisters stood up and we stood with them in solidarity because everyone knows a Kevin and everyone knows a George, and bullying is wrong.

Bullies will always be with us, in schools and workplaces and elsewhere.
They are small people, trying to put others down so as to appear larger themselves.
When we face them, we will be scared.
But face them we must, because if we do not, others suffer.
If we do not, we suffer.
If we do not, a part of us dies.

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