Why do we bully each other?

Today I watched part of the tribute to Michael Jackson. At one point, Rev. Al Sharpton told Michael’s three kids, “Your dad was not strange, it was strange what he had to deal with.”

It was a beautiful and compassionate thing to say, and I doubt those kids will ever forget it. The whole thing just about broke my heart. But what hurts me most is how badly Michael was bullied when he was alive.

Would it have been so hard to have had compassion for a man who never had a childhood? Would it have been too much of a stretch to remember that he was abused in the pursuit of perfection? Would it have been so difficult to imagine what life must have been like for a man who ultimately decided to reject himself in pursuit of perfection?

Honoring Michael has helped me remember that bullying of any kind is damaging and wrong. Bullying is pervasive in our society. We not only say mean things directly to others, but we say things behind their backs and we say hurtful things to ourselves in the privacy of our own minds.

Michael Jackson was brilliant and full of love. Like many of us, he wanted to create a better world above all else. Like all of us, he wasn’t perfect. But in life and in death he reminds us to be kind to others and ourselves.
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