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Painful Memory Contains Lessons

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From the Principal…

My mother met a lady recently who said she rode the bus with me when we were in school.   She was being bullied by some boys and said I intervened to make them stop.  She asked my mother to tell me she never forgot this.  I was pleased to hear that I did the right thing in that situation but had no memory of the event.

Unfortunately, I have a clear memory of another event from those years.  While sitting in a football stadium visiting with friends, the subject of a new student came up.  There was some laughter about the person and I chimed in with a cutting comment that drew more laughter.  A moment later I realized the person who was the target of our laughter was sitting in front of us and heard every word.   She did not react but quietly moved down a few rows.  I sat there feeling sick.

If I had said something as simple as, “She’s cool,” that might have dampened the comments and laughter.  But no, I was more interested in fitting in than protecting the feelings of others.  I was not an “up stander.”

Why do I remember this event after so many years?  It still stings as if it happened yesterday.  I’ve never shared this story with anyone until now, but this memory contains lessons that I continue to learn from today.

1. Speak kind words to others.  Stop and think before saying something critical.  There are times when it’s appropriate to be critical of ideas.  But, it’s possible to be critical of ideas without being critical of people.

2. Treat others as you want to be treated.

3. When someone is being hurt, try to be an “up stander” rather than a bystander or participant.

We all make mistakes, but it’s important to learn from them, even the embarrassing and painful ones.  Saying something hurtful toward someone may become a painful memory we regret. My hope is that the kindness we show others will be remembered and shared for years to come.


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I'm Jim Warnock, Principal at Alma Intermediate School. I enjoy learning and sharing with others. If you like the outdoors, check out my other blog: ozarkmountainhiker.com

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