Last night before bed I did a quick check of the news online and saw the story about Tyler Clementi, the young man at Rutgers University who just committed suicide after two fellow students surreptitiously videotaped him having sex with another man.
I couldn’t sleep last night and Tyler kept coming to mind. I felt haunted by his suffering. I prayed for the repose of his soul and for his family, a lot.
And as bad as this is by itself, it’s worsened as it comes on the heels of a 13-year-old boy in California, Seth Walsh, who committed suicide last week after being taunted for being gay.
I was a gay teenager back in the pre-Stonewall era and I can tell you it was NOT a cakewalk. You’d think 41 years after the Stonewall Rebellion kicked off the Gay Liberation movement that things would be better for gay youth, but in some ways I wonder if it’s even harder with cyber-bullying being added to the ways to ostracize gay youth.
But this post isn’t about being gay.
It’s about cruelty and kindness.
One of the bumper stickers on my car says “Compassion is the radicalism of our time. – The Dalai Lama” Seems like.
And just like with BP and the burning turtles – I can point my finger and blame someone else (these kids who torment their gay classmates, the schools and society for not doing more, etc.). Or I can do two other things:
– Look for ways to make a positive impact in the life of those who suffer, and particularly for gay teens, a group close to my heart. This is something I’ve said I’d do for years and I haven’t. Maybe it’s gotten to be time.
– I can look in the mirror. Look for where I have been unkind, or, God forbid, cruel. Look for where I’ve turned the other way when someone needed kindness. Look for opportunities I’ve walked away from to lighten the load in the lives of others who were suffering. But more than just calling myself out for my transgressions, I can vow to be a force for good. The Dalai Lama also said “Kindness is my religion.” I can stand by that.
Tonight I’ll try to find it in my heart to pray for the young man & young woman who put the video of Tyler on the Internet (the impetus, seemingly, for his suicide). I’ll try to remember that they too need kindness.
And along with this wisdom from the Dalai Lama I’ll take to my prayer time the reminder from Gandhi to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” May all beings be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings be at peace.
And Tyler and Seth – may you rest in peace. And may your families be comforted.