We don’t all have to be the same. But you know what? When the call goes out for the project to help the widow with her yard, we both show up. That’s what matters.

I think most us of look back at high school with mixed emotions. Here are some experiences and ideas to ponder with the happenings in today’s schools.

Shared from a friend: “In my high school years, I had a nemesis for a while. Kid bigger than me; he’d use me for a punching bag to the extent I found safety in staying close to the few friends I had. One day, after this jerk had sucker-punched me in the hallway, my friends told me it was time I did something.

“My friends told me in no uncertain terms they were through protecting me, and if I didn’t hit my antagonist as we passed in the hall, they were each going to hit me. I could see him coming down the hallway, and my friends jostled me into the outside position so I would be next to him as we passed.

The kid wasn’t that much bigger than me and, as we passed, he started to say something, and I decked him hard enough to knock him down. We kept walking. Heard later he told the teachers he’d walked into a door to explain the injuries to his face.


“He never hassled me again. I’ll have to admit it felt good to cold-cock him.”

All through high school I heard some of my classmates refer to a particular girl by an offensive sexual epithet. I was never sure who she was or what her situation was. A handful of years after graduation, I found out she and her brother lived with their alcoholic father, and he had been sexually abusing them for years. Today, it seems unfathomable how such an atrocity went unnoticed.

One of my friends reached out to two brothers living in a dilapidated shack with their own alcoholic father. He invited them to church. They said they’d like to come, but they didn’t have any clothes that would work for church. My friend talked them into coming anyway. After a few weeks, the boys their ages chipped in to get them some Sunday go-to-meeting duds.

The brothers were both thrilled and aghast. They were sure their father would sell their new clothes for booze. So they would go to the friend’s house, change into the Sunday clothes and, after the meetings, they went back and changed into their tattered regular clothes before going home. They became part of our group, both at church and at school, and became Boy Scouts with us.

The older brother became career military; the younger one, who most people thought to be mentally deficient growing up, attained a Ph.D. and teaches at a college.

Often, we will never know if our words and actions make a difference. What we need to do is make sure we are part of the solution and not part of the problem. We need to consider and discuss with our family members and those close to us without family support how we view and treat others.

How many young people spend free time in the school library because it’s safer than the commons instead of because they’re studious?

One line of thought on the bullying situation is: The bullies should be punished so they will behave. That usually just makes the bullying go underground. Another line of thought is: If a kid would knock a bully on his (or her) butt, the bullying would stop.

What about the fellow who approached his father for help because he’s being bullied at school, only to have his father become outraged at him (the victim) for “letting” others bully him? Worse yet, what happens when a boy in the same situation doesn’t have a father or older brother?

What’s a girl to do when she’s just looking for a place to sit and eat her lunch at school, and when she finds a vacant spot at the end of a table is told, “You can’t sit with us” by one of the girls at the table?

School should be a place of peace, learning (both “book” learning and social skills learning) and safety. It should be a place of inclusion. A fellow once noted: You don’t stop littering by teaching ecology in college; you do it by teaching manners in kindergarten and at home.

Attitudes taught in the home – or elsewhere … I remember talking to a young father at the funeral of my brother-in-law. I asked if he was a relative. He said no; he was one of Ray’s Boy Scouts. He went on that Ray Pivec was the only example of proper manhood he’d had growing up – a father figure to him.

It’s our world. Do some good. Brighten the day of everyone you meet. You may save someone’s life, and you’ll sleep better at night.  end mark