Perhaps it’s time to share a small story of institutional, tribe, herd, and individual bullying as an outcast when young and it has impacts older.
In middle school, still I was a branded a geek, a nerd, though never adopted this. I wore the same clothes, I had a leather jacket my mom bought me when younger that I wore over and over. She liked it, she knew I liked Indiana Jones and I was really into it, the Ark of the Covenant was a particularly interesting concept for some reason (another day). That said, I just wasn’t paying attention through commonly accepted mediums, I didn’t look at people, I didn’t talk. I heard everything however, I could sense everything. I was very adept at sensing because I navigated a dark house in search of food as a young boy, I was sensitive to making sounds, searching for food, I was always hungry, I was growing.
And then, the cliques, navigating through each grade, the bullying got worse. The first bully was an interesting story, and that will make it into a book some day, however now this other story is quite compelling more so than the first. This was after martial arts, and having made space with individual bullies, now the group bully had a different plan entirely.
I was in history class, I remember quite clearly the topic of the sphinx in Egypt, and looking back how appropriate that this was the last image impressed before exiting the room. I was pulled out of class, walking down empty hallways, brought to the principal’s office. Then having seated, and waiting for the principal, I sat in a chair looking out the window to the traffic circle outside the school where several sheriff’s department vehicles were pulled up. K-9 units were being dispatched into the building.
The principal came in, the bookshelves behind were looming. The office was dark, and it was interesting this waiting game. Sitting down in the chair behind the desk, the first question was abrupt, “do you have a hit list?” And then it all cli<ck|qu>ed together of course. It is important to note that this mentality goes silent, it withdraws, it slows down time, it freezes, and not just internally, externally as well. The world, thus having known, tilts in this moment, it twists, it turns in an arc, and yes, looking back, it bends to justice.
“Do you have a hitlist?” again the question was asked, the principal leaned forward, I remember this clearly, hands on the desk. “Some students told us that you have a hit list, and a teacher too…” A teacher, yes, that was said.
Now, this is where one has to be careful, and I remember then what I know now, be very careful what words are put into your head, however innocuous. You see, the thing about being different, is that not alike implies sick, and sick implies not healthy, and not healthy implies make distance, and make distance means push away if in the vicinity. And this is how gifted and autism spectrum individuals, which while not diagnosed, could be seen, not sure. Having volunteered to help learning disabled, it is the case.
That’s not important, being different wasn’t important at the time either, I was interested in physics, sciences, geometries, computer sciences, computer graphics, and more. I programmed constantly, I wrote paint programs, flipping bits in registers using C++ at the time. I wasn’t interested in school or socializing, though my mother decided that it would be a benefit to go to public school rather than a gifted school even when it was invited (didn’t find that out till in the military).
So I understand how this came to be, I don’t feel harmed at all, however what I did feel at the time was sadness, a great prevailing sadness, that life was like this. And that all occurred to me on that chair so long ago, it was a tree of probability unfolding, and the guard was there having served wisdom, and it was processed, and it was dealt with, and I think, this evening, Ian helped me share it because the story helped perception realize that I really am not interested in herds, or brands, or entitlements having been on the suppressed side of it. It wasn’t about me, it was about Ian, and in some way others too.
“No,” was all that came out of that small voice with straw blonde hair. And then after repeated questions, “no,” once more. I want to pause and share something from the movie Lives of Others. If you question someone, you can get a rise out of them by constructing a reality that isn’t true and repeatedly pushing them outside of comfort, calling into question the reality that they know, this is how people are broken. There’s more to this, and having military experience helps. This is usually where the prevailing perception is, “if they weren’t doing anything illegal, they’d have nothing to hide,” when the sheer pressure of being told you did something you didn’t can cause sheer frustration and panic about reality perceived, it’s a kind of gas-lighting, it causes one to question one’s sanity. What’s being hidden is one’s own being, like insects or small animals burrowing under the earth, away from sight of the predators, yet this too is ignorant, dividing the world into self and other.
I realize that I have kept quiet about this for some time, and that it could risk career and friendships, however the story needs to be told. So at the time, I remember threading a needle in that chair, and in flashes of respite, the remembrance of the German shepherds, how they walked, how their hair moved in the breeze was comforting. The chair, the wood. It was a terrible experience I wish on nobody, and seeing people treated like this in the media, downtown, anywhere makes me feel compassion and love, I feel compelled to act to minimize such damage without telling this story. Because stories like this, people distance themselves, and having told this story in the past, people did. Stories like this signal damaged goods, risk, and in this society, well, look around, attribution like this continues the suffering of a great many, of minority and all beings alike, qua<rantined|ntized> into buckets of stereotypes for the purpose of exclusion and inclusion.
So that’s all I said was no, and held firm. They walked me to the locker, a walk of uncertainty, the school silent, the hallways empty between classes. The locker, which was torn apart, papers everywhere. The officers walked away, the dogs passed, leaving, and it was all shut down. I was left standing in an empty hallway at a locker, and the last words, “you can clean your locker up now and return to class,” and that was how it was left, nothing, no apology, no acknowledgement, no recompense, no lawsuits, no nothing. I stood at a locker that was so disheveled that I did what I did for the next twenty five years, I shoved it all in and shut and locked it, just like this story (and this is real accountability, an accounting of what happened).
After that, I could barely remember combinations to the lock, I would have dreams of being locked out of that locker occasionally. Numbers vanished into thin air. And after? To add insult to injury, having to return to the very history class that contained the children that could have fabricated something small, and it grew, and grew, until it became abuse. It was dead silent, nobody spoke, nobody said a word. I don’t think a word was said until the bell rang to change classes. The rest of the day was the same, every class, dead silence, until I got home.
So when someone comes telling about all the good times they had in school, I am happy for them, I truly am. I never wanted to go, because well, It was terrorizing, it was abusive, it was punishing for anyone different and this continued and still continued for many years, and still on occasion does. On the flip side, even if included, I didn’t want to be celebrated for being different, because that energy can be put into stillness; such a strong renunciation! Thankfully someone always stood in the shadows helping, a literature teacher here, a math teacher there, and one teacher in particular saved graduation and with an advanced studies diploma. Not having any family support for university, or grades, I had already joined the military before senior year, that’s all I had.
So please – I urge you with the deepest of hearts, the more different someone is, the more tension it brings, and I am paying the price of this still to this day. While I refuse to join any tech crowd upset at being treated this way and punishing the middle America for picking on them, I understand them, and I understand middle America too, and lately it feels like both sides, one in retribution, and the other struggling to survive… hate each other. So the final word?
If I could somehow survive that, and not lash out, and not hit another, and stay the hand and only defend myself and not the air around me when physically attacked so can you. That doesn’t mean bottle it up, which, for the most part wasn’t done, however the story, the battle scars remained, and there are many.
Be kind to your neighbor and they to them, do not skip over top of your neighbor in preference for a more attractive one with a more compelling story down the street or thousands of miles away. We can’t choose our neighbors for the most part, unless we move, and we move each and every second of each and every day. Be kind, be generous, be loving, be compassionate, and if you can somehow do that, you’ll make it, you’ll find an opportunity to grow and evolve at rates unheard of. You’ll see an entire universe in the palm of the hand, you’ll find freedom from bondage, you’ll love… everyone, so much that you’ll share a story like this in a world in suffering, in pain, in grief, and anguish, the cities fighting rurality, and vice versa. It’s the same story that happened to me, amplified and projected.
Now with training in psychology, thankfully, I know this is transference behavior, I know this is counter-transference behavior. Meditation has carried the banner of liberation, for self-view and other-view truly is the forerunner of suffering. Today, this body can do something that is amazing in defense, and I get to practice it only with a few, yet a higher valence with the many and that’s what I was looking for, how to defend without anyone being injured, how to navigate life, learn, explore, without being assaulted. Though, if anger and malice come toward this being, there may be injury, and the practice now is bring that to the path for the benefit of all beings.
Lastly, when I say different, I mean different, I don’t mean variations. I mean absolute bonafide different. And please, difference does not enjoy the activities of exclusions nor inclusions, as exclusion means to wall out, and inclusion means to wall in, and no matter what anyone says, look up the etymology, that’s what it means.
And what is different? Be still and know. And this, while the wheel still turns, albeit slow, vast, and wide, like the great ocean of time and space, is not conducive to sustainment of samsara.
So about samsara? No thank you. This is why I practice aikido, meditate, and study. Can the world be healed? Yes. Why? To give opportunity to other to also be still and know the truth of the world, which is at complete odds with economic growth and <enter|sus>tainment of self-view, we-view, brand-view and all the effluents of these. For those doubting that, it’s in the conclusions of research and practices on jhana, for if someone could self-stimulate happiness, there’d be no need to buy it… and that’s where this line comes in…
Not self, not even this!
and this… and this…
is only found,
and it is a,
it is a grand victory,
it is the supreme victory,
and that is the principle of
firmness, applied, connected
with the earth, bearing witness
to the mundanely profound, and
having met this old friend, it offers
what no materiality, or immateriality
could; liberation in the palm of the hand.
unattached, to rythms, forms, tastes,
smells, sounds, touches and
thoughts, in any variation
in any place, in any
in the eyes.
the sexual acts,
of the rest,
of this life,