When I was a girl in elementary school, probably around fifth grade, so I must have been about 8 or 9 – I started school almost a year early. It had to do with New York state’s cutoff entry dates for starting school. My birthday fell on the exact end of the age bracket, so I didn’t hit five until nearly the end of kindergarten.
If you’re a girl — maybe even if you are a boy — you remember “the mean girls.” There was always a clique of them. In every schoolyard, there was a Bellwether, the girl who — for no particular reason — was the leader of the mean girl gang. While she was usually pretty, she was not a heartbreaker either. She just had that inexplicable “thing” that makes others blindly follow her. A human bellwether.
You might think that a group of girls following each other wouldn’t automatically be rotten little brats. After all, they could follow each other and do good deeds. Help others get their homework done. Protect little ones from predatory bigger kids.
That’s never the way it worked. The gang was always mean. Physical and mental cruelty was their specialty. Taunters and teasers. Nothing made them happier than seeing others cry from being relentlessly humiliated and called names by their gang. Sticks and stones are only one of the many things that hurt. Words are lethal too.
Other features of the gang? They were stuck up. They “set the style.” They also had a radar capacity for spotting an underdog They knew who they could taunt until they broke down and wept.
I never understood them. Why behave that way? What do you gain? Are you that way because that’s how you were treated at home? Were your parents’ jerks too?
I came from a highly dysfunctional family. It brought my brother and me together and we stayed bonded until he died 12 years ago. It never occurred to me that making other kids feel bad would make me feel better. There had to be something else going on that I could never see.
Early in my post-professional career, one of the girls from the mean girls of childhood tried to make friends. Online. I couldn’t help it. I told her I didn’t remember her being my friend. I remembered her as one of the mean girls, never saying anything that didn’t have a barb in it. She never wrote back.
And now, here we are and the guy who supposedly runs our country is one of the mean kids! It was deplorable in elementary schools, but to run a country like that? Sometimes I feel as if I fell through the cracks of reality and am living in a place that merely resembles the U.S. as a physical entity, but otherwise, it’s a different universe. It’s another dimension where the mean kids have taken over.
We are all their targets because there’s always something wrong with us. Of course, if you really want to get mutilated, be any kind of minority. Skin color matters, but being Jewish isn’t bad either. Or being liberal. Or an atheist. Hating is easy. Love takes effort. It ought to be exactly the opposite.
It is my personal opinion that nobody hates one group of people. If you are a hater, you have a little list. You hate gay men and black people? You probably hate Natives, Hispanics, and Asians too.
Hatred is a lifestyle. If you are a hater, in your heart, you hate everyone probably yourself most of all.