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What is wrong with us..."

Chris James

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...have we gone mad? What is it about this continuous cycle of kids committing suicide that we don't take seriously as a society? Schools seem to be more toxic than a waste dump, and yet all we hear are words about how well the administration is combating bullying by holding assemblies.


If I sound frustrated that's because I am. Teachers teach, they are not sociologists or skilled in group dynamics. Why would we even think a teacher might be able to detect the undercurrent of hatred that so obviously exists at this school? Bullying does not exist in a vacuum, there are signs when something like this is afoot in the hallways and classrooms. But all we hears are that teachers are underpaid and overworked. Why would we even think they're looking for the troubled students?

I can see the Principal's point of view in denial. He is already in a world of trouble because someone let the door to the roof unlocked. Ask the lawyers that will soon be crawling all over the place, and rightfully so. So yes, deny the truth because the administration didn't see any bullying while dozens of students come forth with their stories and give us a different truth, and perhaps the real one.

I agree with the reporter (Brody Levesque) that it doesn't matter if this child was gay or not. We already have too many LBGTQ kids committing suicide and the reactions of school administrators is much the same. "I didn't see anything" seems to be the knee-jerk response from all of them. Well, this is America and I have the typical reaction to those people.

Let's turn the TSA loose in schools, and send in Homeland Security. What could be a better choice of securing the homeland than protecting students in our schools? We have thousands of military veterans returning from the Middle East who need jobs, let them now patrol the hallways of our schools. Of course this is the extreme reaction one might expect in America, but what is more extreme than bullying?

Bullies need to be expelled or incarcerated, period. There is no greater crime than disrupting the much needed education of our students with mindless violence. But since even bullies need an education I suggest we take a few Army vets, a closed military base, and create a school for bullies. I don't think it will take more than one semester in an institution of learning like that to re-educate a few stupid minds.

Something needs to be done, and I hope you don't take my suggestions seriously. Nothing will bring young Drew Ferraro back to us and that is sad...so very sad.

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I too despair that there is no clear way out of this tragic situation. Part of the problem is that teachers and staff in public education are increasingly prevented from any kind of significant intervention. In my region the news has been filled recently with the case of a classroom teacher who, trying to prevent a loudmouthed, disruptive student from entering his classroom, reached out and stopped the boy by grabbing his shoulder. The parents sued, the teacher, found guilty of 'touching' lost the case and his job (mandatory removal from classroom teaching under this school's regulations). Chaos reigns.


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The truly tragic part of all this, of how it keeps happening again and again, is that we are simply refusing to learn from our mistakes, and refusing to take hard-fought-for wisdom and knowledge and put it to good use.

How large groups of adolescents interact and react with each other given various environmental and social pressures, and without proper supervision and encouragement, is not news. It's not a mystery, and it's not a surprise. We know this. It's been studied and researched and written about for decades. It takes strong, skilled, and competent leadership from adults, enlisting help and commitment from so-inclined kids, to create a positive peer culture that encourages and creates tolerance and does not permit the interactions that lead to bullying. This takes effort. And work. And, most importantly probably, money and resources. Without it, it's Lord of the Flies. Every time. Not yet fully developed neo-cortexes, especially in certain individuals, take a back-seat to the hormone and emotion driven monkey-brains that are more concerned about social pecking order and power than calculus or tolerance of differences. We know this. It is predictable and understood.

The only question is, why are we choosing to spend our resources elsewhere? Why is drilling for oil and building a new sports stadium so much easier to get money for than hiring the people and creating the programs needed to stop this from happening? Well, again, it's those same base drives and emotions that take over when we decide to forget to think.

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In the US we have a deeply conservative streak that places the responsibility for the socialization of children only with the parents. This hopelessly outmoded point of view took root before schools were huge, classes were so crowded, and technology allowed anonymous bullying. Schools are the perfect place to spend time on the socialization process. Teachers, though are essentially forbidden to deal with these issues as they chase standardized test scores and dodge theocrats. I long for the days of A. S. Neill. Sexuality is part of the problem, but as others have said, a lot of adolescent suicide occurs in straight kids. Every difference from shifting norm seems like chum in the water. I suggest that a start at addressing this slaughter is to find allies on local school boards and press them for a real solution. Communities that don't hold policy-makers accountable are reduced to watching the chaos roll. Attending a school board meeting can be a revelation about who is making policy in your schools.

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bi_janus and Gee are correct.

Outmoded methods of socialisation contrast with the research that has revealed the nature of hormonal effects at puberty are responsible for the fourteen and fifteen year old 'fog' that befuddles most tens at that time of their lives. The teen brain is hard-wiring itself according to its development prior to puberty, and will then reboot itself, eager to experience life in all its beauty and grandeur; at least it would, if the teen wasn't conflicted by social indoctrination.

However, no matter the hormones, the conflict that arises from the childhood indoctrination with belief systems that oppose reality and cognisant development, is compounded by the irrationality of the adults who see behavioural adjustment as the solution to controlling the individual's innate human expression and development. Those people are indeed trying to run the asylum.

There can be little sympathy for those who replace the cognisant development of their children with belief structures that impose restrictions on that development. They ignore all the scientific research and the obvious signs of distress that comes at puberty when the child's own mind and body screams, internally to be allowed the freedom, to discover who they are, rather than who the parents, society, or culture believe they should be.

In this respect behavioural psychologists, of particular schools of thought, are no better than the drugs often prescribed for the malaise of puberty in an attempt to make the child conform. More sinister are the rituals used by certain cults to release the 'demons' that the superstitious think are inhabiting the child/teen. They are equally as dangerous as trying to pray away the 'gay' and as Chris references, it is regardless of whether the accusation of being gay is accurate or not. The accusing is the beginning of the bullying.

Neither does it help when public figures stand for election with policies that deny the intrinsic human rights of the individual. This is especially so when those policies are shrouded in terms of trying to protect the 'fabric of society'. Condemnation of the freedom to be whom you are yet to discover you are, is extremely damaging to the developing psyche, and if allowed to continue will stall the maturing mind by burning out nearly every cognisant circuit in the brain, leaving the individual subservient to the will and authority of others.

Is it any wonder that when the child/teen is subjected to this deprivation of their cognisant development, combined with bullying and intimidating in their school environment, that they feel the only way to escape is to make it all go away. And still there are those who do not admit the negativity of their influence, do not admit their culpability in these child victim deaths.

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Learning how you 'should be' is at the very heart of the concept of society. For a social order to work its members must share values and beliefs. Whether those values and beliefs are admirable, just, and good is often of little importance to a society's need for order, required for any society to function smoothly.

Consequently each person must become individually responsible to develop the ability to question those values and beliefs in order to achieve enlightened self-fulfillment. However, this critical task must not be left to the whims of fourteen-, fifteen-, or sixteen-year old emotions and mental processes without the guidance of mentors and teachers whose concern is only for the well-being of their charges and the development of youth's reckless abilities into mature adult tools for achieving self-awareness.

That this is not happening in this society is as obvious as it is tragic.


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Yes James, I think you hit on a very important point when you mention becoming, 'individually responsible', and that is indeed benefited by the mentor role model, as proven by older cultures, tribes and the City states of Ancient Greece , which recognised the value of intimacy between the mentor and the mentored, when that intimacy serves love and truth.

However, the underlying physical nature of the hormonal reorganisation of the brain at puberty, is subject to the child's earlier social or cultural conditioning. If the mentor or teacher acts as an agent of the culture or society, to restrict the ability of the teen from knowing about 'enlightened self fulfilment' then the individual may well feel deprived, becoming irrationally rebellious rather than productively revolting. Good teachers and mentors do not merely teach the student to fit in to society, indeed they should teach them to question everything, and then mentor them into opening the doors of the mind to all possibilities with awareness of responsibility and consequences. A mentor not only guides the cognisant development of another person, he makes sure it is accessible to be developed, and that will probably mean revealing the taboos of the culture; otherwise the taboos will restrict the individual's enlightenment.

We can have societies that demand individuals fit into the mould that the society has set out for them,

or we can strive to encourage individuals to develop their own unique innate human potentials, secure in the knowledge that our culture will value them as contributors to the society, and reward them.

I agree that is tragic that all we seem to be doing is creating automatons to fit into social slots for the profit of others. It's not supposed to be like that.

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Too many times lately, I've posted how dismayed I am at so many, many tragic losses of kids who should still be growing into the young men and women they could be.

"Should be." As I skimmed the replies, that phrase jumped out at me, but out of context. Here's what I mean. "Should be." We are seeing too much of "should be." In an ideal world, parents "should be" responsible...and so should the kids (the friends, the bullies, the affected teens) and so should the teachers and admins. The kids "should be" able to cope better. The bullies "should be" more tolerant, humane, and civilized (and so much more).

Yet when I grew up, there were other messages, and those messages are still out there, despite some of the more accepting messages we now see. Growing up, I got the message from all around, "You 'should be' straight plus less sensitive to all the bullying/teasing." I didn't understand my growing feelings for guys, other boys. "What? My body, my mind, my heart, they're all saying...I like guys...*that* way. ...But I'm not supposed to, am I? I 'should be' straight. But...I'm not sure I am." (There were times I was pretty sure I was gay, and that was tough, as much because I had no expectation of finding anyone else "like me" as because I'd absorbed that message of, "You 'should be' straight. Be it noted, that message was not usually directly spelled out, but it was evident.

That message still is out there, folks, and it and messages about other things are still hurting young guys and girls so much that they see no option, and so they...die. And that is terrible. -- And at 19, I could've been one of those statistics, if I'd actually done what I thought of doing. -- Yet somehow, I don't quite know how, I didn't do it. I still deal with depression, but I deal with it, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. But I'm well aware of how it feels.

One of the recent videos from a survivor popped up again in my YouTube list, because of a response video.

Why mention that? Because to me, that one video says loud and clear exactly how serious the problem is.

Why would I go on at length about "should be"? Especially when the reply had nothing to do with how I'm responding? -- Because to me, one of the biggest problems is that our society has become caught up in "should be" instead of accepting things as they are. In a better world, kids would not be exposed to such terribly difficult things so early, yet they are, and I wish more parents would teach their kids how to cope successfully, instead of wrapping them up in cotton, like my parents too often did. -- Yet what happens when a teen isn't, and never will be, how society thinks that teen "should be"? Suppose that teen marches to the beat of some other drummer. It doesn't have to be about being gay. That teen really "should be" accepted as is, and not how society thinks he or she "should be." That includes when that teen is gay or lesbian or bi or transgender. (There really are too many buzzwords, I swear.) It doesn't help when so much of our culture says a boy "should be" "a man, macho," and all those other things, and a girl "should be" "a woman, girly, and they should both be so many things that maybe they are and maybe they are not quite all the time, or that maybe they never have much interest in being.

I wish I knew the answer, the way to solve the problem, the rash of suicides and days, weeks, months, years filled with unhappiness at not feeling like you belong. -- I think the sad truth is probably that this is not new, it is just not as often reported or widely reported as it has been lately. Shed light on the problem, but also we must find answers.

The social illness of bullying and excluding people who really have no reason to be excluded is nothing new. -- But I would argue it is not unique to adolescents. It certainly happens among school kids before adolescence. It certainly happens among the adults, and anyone claiming adults outgrow that is really, really fooling him-/herself. It simply masquerades as other things. Or it doesn't even bother with the mask. Yet it is still as dangerous, in any event.

It seems to me one of the main problems is that our culture(s) must somehow learn to cope with the fact that some people are indeed gay and always will be, and those people are wired, body and mind and heart, to love another who is the same sex. Making fun of or bullying or outcasting someone who is, or who seems, or who "everybody says" is gay...might be gay...whatever...is a sure way to lose, too often, some portion of those people, including teens and pre-teens. It is also a way to radicalize some of them...like me. I got royally tired of it, the last time someone went off on me about gay people and a lot of other things. But that person finally ticked me off enough that I likely won't take that crap anymore. Also, the people I would've kept quiet for, out of respect because I was with them, are no longer in my life, for one reason or another. So now I am more likely to speak my mind without worrying who it might upset.

I want a way for our culture to learn and accept that those folks who are gay really are just fine, that they are needed as much as any straight person, and that it is *not acceptable* to cause gay or might-be-gay or everybody-says-he's-gay teens to feel so bad that they give up and kill themselves, because they have lost all hope that anyone would understand or that they'd find someone to love who loves them back. (And that includes the love from family and friends, not only a boyfriend or girlfriend.) When you go to school every day and hear, every day, some taunt or get physically threatened, and when it feels like there's no one who will listen or understand or love you back, or help you fight back, then that is...terribly toxic.

Yet I'm not the only one who went through things like that. Many other gay people do. Many other straight people do also. We must have some answers, some ways to fight off the problems and deal with the inner feelings that cause so many teens to feel so bad. There must be ways we can make it crystal clear that we care, we listen, we love, and we will help how we can.

I would have given a lot for that, when I was in elementary, junior high, or high school, and even in college.

I think it's downright criminally negligent what our society is doing that's causing so many bright, talented, nice, sweet, loving, caring kids to give up on life and choose to die instead, or to be pushed to it by others.

There must be a better way. Not just "it gets better," but, how can we *make* it better? And if that's a "gay agenda," well damn it, so be it.

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Ah Ben, what a great post. You zero in on a very valid and interesting point of view, and probably raise more discussion points than we can handle in a forum, but that has never stopped us before. :boogie[1]:

I want to take a moment to discuss the definition of 'should be'. It can be used as expressing a reason to do something, as in, "you should be digging the garden."

It can be used to express a potential, as in, "the movie should be started by now."

or it can be used to express a condition as in, " if it should be necessary, please talk to me."

The subtle differences are like many expressions in English, especially when we consider similar words like, 'would' or could,' even though both of them are more requests than the demand that is inferred in 'should.'

'Should' does have a questioning component in its use, "If it should be possible, I would like things to be different."

Whilst this is essentially a variation on the 'potential' case in the use of the word, it introduces a questioning factor for our consideration.

However there is also a more philosophical application of the word should, or the phrase, 'should be', that I find interesting, and quite relative to the concern we have for the problems of our culture.

In discussing our cultures and societies, it is a mammoth effort to examine and understand just how far-reaching any change has to extend if we humans are to benefit without losing our humanity; or regaining it, if you feel that we have already gone to far. The extent of any cultural revolution, needed to counter the effects of the accumulated traditions that persist in our societies, is enormous. However I would point out that in just the past 60+ years of my life the changes have been unthinkably wide-ranging compared to what my grandparents might have experienced.

Let us then see how 'should' was used in famous literature; specifically, in a famous musical which discussed how the individual relates to life and culture, as its main theme.

I refer to Man of La Macha, and the scene where Cervantes rebukes, Sanson Carrasco (The cynical Duke)

I have lived for over forty years, and I've seen...

life as it is.



cruelty beyond belief.

I've heard all the voices of God's noblest creature.

Moans from bundles of filth in the street.

I've been a soldier and a slave.

I've seen my comrades fall in battle...

or die more slowly under the lash in Africa.

I've held them at the last moment.

These were men who saw life as it is.

Yet they died despairing.

No glory, no brave last words.

Only their eyes, filled with confusion...

questioning why.

I do not think they were asking why they were dying...

but why they had ever lived.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?

Perhaps to be too practical is madness.

To surrender dreams, this may be madness.

To seek treasure where there is only trash...

too much sanity may be madness!

And maddest of all...

to see life as it is and not as it should be!

In my view, this speech is not far from describing the despair that any decent human being would suffer in the same circumstances but the words are also describing the devastating empty perceptions of life by anyone facing the 'reality of life as it is', and as a result stops it, before they realised that they have, within themselves, the empowering concepts of life "as it should be!" That is the "It gets better" bit. The trick is to see that The Impossible Dream, doesn't stop us from dreaming, it should inspire us to find more of them.

Of course, the author of Man of La Mancha understands that the negativists within our culture deny this point of view as being too romantic. Those people are the ones the author is addressing in this speech, but he is also speaking to the heart of all of us who would, if we could, encourage our societies and our cultures to become what they should be. Not 'should be' as in trying to meet some preconceived utopia, but as the potential of our human compassion and caring for each other to make life worthwhile.

Recently one of the Republican conservative Presidential Candidates stated that "Gays don’t deserve ‘privilege’ of marriage because gay unions don’t ‘benefit society’"

This simplistic faux realist view ignores, with much ignorance, the major contributions gay people have made since they first arranged the vines in the trees to be both beautiful and serviceable. It's not that all artists are gay, but that artists of life accept that the human condition is diverse and worth living and life is worth exploring, and that is how it is supposed to be.

Finally, our own writing can inspire the discovery of life's worth just by being available, but let me quote Gertrude Stein; "The artist's job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence."

If we can just manage to spread even a little of that antidote, we may save some of those people who feel that their 'reality' is empty of any happy experience. And perhaps, we will even have contributed to the way things should be.

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Of course, Don Quixote was thought to be a fool and a dreamer because he was optimistic and a romantic, because his 'should bes' were full of moral imperatives that were considered ridiculous.

I was on his side. As is Des, a romantic, an idealist, a dreamer.

"Recently one of the Republican conservative Presidential Candidates stated that "Gays don’t deserve ‘privilege’ of marriage because gay unions don’t ‘benefit society’"

As though the only benefit man can have for the world is to procreate. That shows how shallow and narrow a view of life this man has. It is a biblical view, however, so I suppose, being a Republican, he'd get a lot of cheers for that.


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The Author Man of La Mancha in true playwright tradition took the substance of Don Quixote and wrote an intellectual philosophical musical play of great depth.

It doesn't hurt that the songs are great, too. I note that it is a highschool production favourite, from the videos on YouTube.

It is also heartening to know that DonQuixote has been in print and well read since it was written in 1605.

Don Quixote ( /ˌdɒn kiːˈhoʊtiː/; Spanish: [ˈdoŋ kiˈxote] ( listen)), fully titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (Spanish: El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha), is a novel written by Miguel de Cervantes. Published in two volumes a decade apart, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature, and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published. In one such list, Don Quixote was cited as the "best literary work ever written"

It seems that Romanticism hasn't realy lost its popularity.

And yes Cole we are both dreamers. Does that mean we should sleep together? :spank: (naughty orang-utan )

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I'm a dreamer and a Romantic from way back. I occasionally have bouts of Twain-like misanthropy and cynicism. Uh, and more than one person has noted I tend to tilt at windmills, even though I'll admit I've only read the first couple hundred pages of Don Quixote, something which I should remedy.

I suppose really the problem in all of that "should be" is that each person and each group have different ideas on what "should be." There is the "should be" in the imperative, "ought to be" sense. There is the "should be" in the coulda-woulda-shoulda questioning or conditional sense. But each person or group has a different idea on what those ideals ought to be. Unfortunaely, some think being gay/bi is wrong, as if it were a choice instead of a built-in drive. Others accept being gay as normal and natural. Still others have some other pet peeves, and of course nearly everyone wants some ideal of what they think things ought to be like. Teh trouble is, nearly everyone has it wrong there. Not only are a lot of those things not readily attainable, but some are mutually exclusive, even within the same scheme or paradigm. Humanity is a lot more varied and complicated than that. While usually that's a good thing, it often seems like it ought to be simpler, more reglarized. It should be the way I want it, shouldn't it? ;) But suppose my world-view ignores something or gets something wrong. Hey, it could happen.

Most of my professional and personal life has been about favoring art and literature. It's what happens when two readers, an artist and an engineer, have a dreamer who reads a lot, I guess. Stories, poems, art to make things a little more enjoyable and spark a thought or two are part of why I ever volunteered here and at Codey's World and elsewhere. -- So I'm all for writing and other art that brings a little joy and rest to the chaos of real life as it really is.

That question of why would there be gay people, when at first glance it seems like not a survival or reproductive trait turns out to have a few surprising possible answers, which I suppose really belong in their own thread. But the gist of that is, just because it isn't immediately obvious why being gay might fit into a scientific or a religious point of view, doesn't mean that there aren't good reasons that it stayed in the population (evolving or created) and the possibility that if it is in there to begin with, then just maybe God might have had a purpose for that, instead of the man-made interpretation using some very harsh buzzwords.

All of which...is probably a bit academic to a teen who's feeling left out and out of options. But maybe what we write, opinions or stories or poems, can give a better clue for people who need help.

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