By Jill Rose
What if we started a “Hug U Campaign” as a way to show our unity?
I talk to my son about bullying a lot. His little sister is 6 and has Down syndrome. So I worry. I worry kids will make fun of her or tease him about her disability. We have to be more prepared than others.
When we have these talks, I tell him he needs to have tools in his toolbox. The problem his, I haven’t given him any tools. Lets be honest, it’s hard to know what to do when faced with a bully, even as an adult.
Leave it to the power of social media to give me a fresh perspective. I recently read a story on Facebook about how we should use our hearts when combatting bullies rather than our heads. If you think too much you’ll likely confront the attacker. But if you go with your heart, you’ll likely show kindness to the victim.
Here’s the post:
Today something happened and had it not been for my good friend Julie, I don’t know if I would have handled it the way I did. (We were talking yesterday about how to help someone who is being harassed). I live in NYC … I was on the #1 train heading to Union Square … there was a (I believe) Muslim woman and some jerk was yelling racist comments at her. No one was doing anything. I can be a hothead but yesterday Julie told me how to best handle people like this is to pretend you know the person being harassed and sit with them. The woman was on the opposite end of the subway car from me when I shouted out “Keesha? OH MY I haven’t seen you in ages.” (Keesha was the first name that popped into my head, the name of an old friend).
I went towards her and winked and gave a little nod, HOPING she would get it and follow along. She did. She screamed back “Michele? Holy Moly how are you?” and we gave one another a hug. Just then, another woman shouted “Michele-what are you doing on the 1 train?” I looked across the way and there was a big black man who said “nothing like female friendships-it’s a beautiful thing.” The harasser left the train at the next stop. It was then that I started shaking … TOGETHER we CAN make a difference-even if it is to one person.
I shared this story with my family at dinner and we agreed that if the people of the world had this tool in their collective toolbox, the planet would experience a profound shift toward kindness. Kids surrounding victims on the schoolyard with big group hugs instead of scuffles. Strangers supporting a person being attacked, rather than remaining a silent bystander. My husband said we should call it the “Hug U Campaign” for unity. I liked the idea of a campaign, spreading the word and teaching a technique that just might change the world.
**Jill Rose is the Center for Family Involvement’s videographer and social media specialist. She is the mother of two wonderful children. Her daughter’s Down syndrome diagnosis inspired her to make videos that can educate and inspire others.