Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rudolf and the Grinch Teach Us How to Be Different

Rudolf and the Grinch Teach Us How to Be Different

We’re all different. Every single person on this planet is different, and sometimes, people exclude and bully people because of their differences. Sometimes it’s the color of skin, sometimes it’s clothes, sometimes it a sexual preference, and sometimes, it’s a glowing red nose. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a common holiday character, was excluded and made fun of because he was different than all the other reindeer. That isn’t to say all the other reindeer weren’t different than each other, because they undoubtedly were, Rudolph’s difference was just more pronounced. Because Rudolph’s difference was more pronounced, the other reindeer ostracized him, made him feel different in a bad way. They made him feel worthless. However, Rudolph was able to rise above the bullying he received from his peers; he stayed strong despite the bullying, and Santa recognized that Rudolph’s nose was a strength and something to be proud of, rather than to be ashamed of. Santa asks Rudolph to lead to his sleigh with his glowing nose, and all the other reindeer realize that they were wrong to have made fun of Rudolph because he was different. Differences aren't bad; in fact, they are often what make us special.
Another common holiday character is the Grinch, who was also bullied and ostracized by his peers. Many of us know the Grinch as a negative, hateful character, but he wasn’t always that way, and he certainly didn’t stay that way. The Grinch grew up as a small happy and loving boy, but, like Rudolph, he was made fun of because he looked different than everyone else. Other kids wouldn’t play with him, and even adults made fun of him. The Grinch eventually couldn’t take it anymore and he went up to live in the mountains. The Grinch felt so shunned by society that he decided to isolate himself even more. The Grinch lashed out at the society and the people that had put him through so much misery. The part of him that was so wounded appeared as hate and negativity.

One day, however, a small girl changes the Grinch through one small gesture; she reaches out her hand to him in kindness. She doesn’t treat him like a monster, but instead extends the same love and friendship that she believes everyone deserves. Her actions are transformational, and the Grinch changes back into the person he used to be - - inside, he becomes that kind and loving boy again.

Bullying isn’t always intentional, it can be as simple as making fun of a friend for wearing something they normally wouldn’t or not talking to certain people because we don’t want to associate ourselves with difference and also be left out. This form of exclusiveness is pervasive and hurts even the ones who are perpetuating it. Whenever we chose to pick on someone, talk behind their back, leave someone out, ignore someone, or even not stand up for someone we are not acting with integrity and we can feel it. I think this is especially true, when we are doing this to people who haven’t done anything to us or to people who are more vulnerable. We know it is wrong. When we continue to engage in this behavior or remain silent while others are saying things it does not feel good and it usually comes back to haunt us. So next time you see or do something that you feel is compromising your integrity, remember the story of Rudolf and of the Grinch, and do something different.

Bullying comes in a lot of forms, and often people are bullied because they are different than others. But everyone is different, in one way or another, and differences are something to be proud of, and not something to be ashamed of. Differences make our society innovative, diverse, and adaptive. Differences also challenge us to look outside of the box and open our eyes to new possibilities. However, this being said, it can be hard to hold up the banner of difference. It is difficult to embrace and feel proud of your own uniqueness when others around you do not celebrate it.
If you are ever being bullied or feel like you are being excluded
because you are different, or even if you want to offer a helping hand to help someone out of a bad situation and you want help knowing how to do it, feel free to call Teen Link.

Teen Link is a peer-to-peer confidential and non judgmental emotional help hotline, open every night from 6-10pm, at 1-866-833-6546. The volunteers on the lines are teens that are the same age as you and go through lots of training to be able to support callers around anything that might come up. At Teen Link we celebrate difference and respect the bravery it takes to be different. We also acknowledge the courage it takes to reach out for help, but we want you to know that you are not alone and we are always here to listen.

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