Stand Up

Posted: October 8, 2013 in World On The Edge

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We shouldn’t forget to teach our children courage. We do that by being courageous ourselves and encouraging them in the lesson. I learned the lesson many years ago. In the years since, I’ve faced seemingly more serious things, but this little incident in my youth taught me to stand up for my values.

We used to call it “going along with the crowd” when a person acted in a way contrary to what he or she had been taught at home. When we’re young, it’s so easy to do that, because we don’t want to be judged as different from our peers, especially the popular peers. So, we allow them to lead us into situations that we know may not be good for us. Today, some of those particular peers might be labeled as bullies.

I remember one incident in high school when there was an attempt to “bully” me.  Clubs were thought to be important then, and in my high school, the only high school in town, there were four clubs—two for girls and two for boys. Future members were voted in as Freshman and then made to “pledge,” like in a college sorority or fraternity.  For the girls, that involved wearing no absolutely no make-up, carrying around candy or gum for members, and doing jobs or favors for members when ever they asked.

I was agreeable to all that, until I was ‘assigned’ to one of the senior girls in ‘the club’ to which I was pledging. She grabbed me before a Biology class and told me to cheat while grading a paper for a boy she especially liked—we often swapped our test paper with another student, and while the teacher called out the answers to the whole class, we checked the wrong ones, then turned the student’s paper in to the teacher.  The senior girl did not want me to check anything wrong on this boy’s paper. She said he was to make 100 percent, no mistakes.

I was petrified, but I told her no, I wouldn’t do that.

“Well, she said, “if you want to be in ‘the club,’ you’d better do it, or I’ll see you get kicked out of the pledge group.” (BTW, this girl was the daughter of a local Baptist preacher, and I was one of very few Catholics in my school.)

I honestly didn’t think that long about my answer.  My parents had taught me to stand up for what was right. So again, I told her no.

She didn’t think long either. She made good on her promise and went to the club officers to have me kicked out of the pledge class.

Fortunately, one of the officers was my good friend’s sister, and she stood up for me. “Kaye is a Catholic,” she told the rest of the officers,  “And Catholics won’t cheat.” (Wow–not quite the truth–I only wish it was so. Catholics are all too human,  even back then!) At any rate, pity was given because I was a Catholic, so I wasn’t kicked out.

This kind of threatening, or bullying, doesn’t just happen to the young. It happens to all ages; in business, friendships, and families. “If you don’t…., then I’ll…..”

I was lucky enough to have been taught to stand up for what I believed in, no matter the threat. That long ago incident gave me courage to stand up for much more important things later on.

Oh yes, and one more thing–at the final, and dreaded, initiation of pledges into ‘the club’, the Senior girl again chose me as her own. She was ‘paying me back,” she said.

It took my mother half the night to get the Crisco and Corn meal  out of my hair, and half a tube of toothpaste to get rid of the garlic the girl made me chew! But again, I was lucky–I enjoyed every oyster she poured down my throat. I never said a word to her, but I just love oysters!!!!

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