WHAT IF IT WAS YOUR BROTHER? – RICH PASCHALL

Just Imagine, by Rich Paschall


Growing up. It’s hard, sometimes. For some, it can become hard forever. A youthful psyche can be delicate. An abusive environment can turn out to be too much to bear. Mistreatment can come in many forms, at many places. It can be home, school, or playground.  The young need to be loved — as does everyone. They most especially hate being laughed at.

I’m a little boy with glasses
The one they call a geek
A little girl who never smiles
‘Cause I have braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels to cry myself to sleep

The Peter, Paul and Mary Song “Don’t Laugh at Me” wasn’t just a generic story about kids that are picked on.  The author, Allen Shamblin, wrote it following his daughter telling the tale of being teased at school.   Years later Peter Yarrow was inspired by the song to found Operation Respect.  The non-profit provides a curriculum to schools and uses the song to promote the message:
Just another day,
with the damage done.
You never know how your words can cut someone.

It is hard for a child to “dare to be different.” Someone that does not conform to what others do may be laughed at or ridiculed. This can lead to dire consequences for those who can not handle it.  A young Rachael Lynn asks who will care about others in this anti-bullying anthem:
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

Some are fortunate enough to know how to deal with those who are mean, or at least they know how to withstand the pain.  The prolific Taylor Swift shot back at those who were mean to her in the Grammy winning song, Mean:
Take a little look at the life of Miss Always Invisible
Look a little harder, I really really want you
To put yourself in her shoes

Some children can feel invisible within their worlds.  Ignored or pushed around by others, they may feel as if nobody sees them and nobody cares.  Marie Digby shares a song that is autobiographical in nature and refers back to her time in Junior High:
Trust the one who’s been where you are wishing
All it was was sticks and stones
Those words cut deep but they don’t mean you’re all alone
And you’re not invisible

While admitting he did not have it as bad as some others, young country and pop star Hunter Hayes knows what it is like to sometimes feel Invisible.  Here he offers up words of encouragement to the young in his Grammy nominated song:
Well he’s not invisible anymore
With his father’s nine and a broken fuse
Since he walked through that classroom door
He’s all over prime time news

What if being “invisible” pushes a child over the edge to suicide? Or Worse?  Kelly Rowland examines some scenarios in the critically praised song about stolen lives in Stole:
You could be a hero – heroes do what’s right
You could be a hero – you might save a life
You could be a hero – you could join the fight
For what’s right, for what’s right, for what’s right

Those who are picked on, those who are lonely, those who are feeling invisible all need a hero, someone who may save their lives through a little kindness.  In fact, it may also save the lives of others.  Superchick deals with potential heroes and other growing up issues in the album, Last One Picked:
I took my time, I hurried up
The choice was mine I didn’t think enough
I’m too depressed to go on
You’ll be sorry when I’m gone

The pop punk rock band Blink-182 took on the topic of depression and suicide in Adam’s Song.  Written by the band’s Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus, the motivation for the lyrics came not only from Hoppus’ feeling of loneliness at home, but also by a teenage suicide letter he read in a publication.  The song itself takes the form of such a letter:

What if it was your brother sister mother father child
Then would it still be cool
Why can’t you see your words are hurting
Everybody deserves to be themselves and no one else
So think before you move

For those who may be bullying others through their actions or their words, Darin Zanyar asks “What If.”  Consider if it was your family.  Would you still act the same?  What about if that was you?  What if you were “the victim of the criticism and they treated you that cruel?”

If any of these songs and stories make you feel uncomfortable, even a little, just imagine how it is to live any of this.  Wentworth Miller explains how it is when there is no “us and we.”
 

L’appel du vide: The Biggest OOPS

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Maybe it’s stretching a point … maybe not. On a physical level, I have never had any kind of urge to walk through the fire or off the cliff. But that’s on the physical plane. My suicidal urges have been less tactile, more psychological, social, personal.

About my second marriage, the one I don’t talk about. I married a man blatantly wrong for me. As inappropriate, abusive, unintelligent and uneducated as anyone could be. That’s what happens when you marry on the rebound. In a foreign country. When you don’t speak the language and you’re lonely. Like the edge of the cliff or the fire, I knew with certainty before the wedding I shouldn’t do it. Bad idea. Big mistake. Why, then, did I?

Hormones? Hubris? Maybe because it was so wrong and such a terrible idea? Did I need to test the depth of the water or the heat of the fire? How long the fall down the mountain? Whatever it was, it cost me.

My mother met him shortly after the deed was done. She looked at me, sadly. “You’ve really done it now.” Cryptic though her words were, I knew what she meant. Knowing didn’t help. I had indeed done it. L’appel du vide describes it as well as anything. It took eleven long years to undo what had been so quickly accomplished. It was a learning experience. Not in a good way. Catastrophic stupidity on my part.

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There are many ways to achieve self-annihilation. A long walk off a short pier is less painful and more efficient. I recommend to anyone inclined to doing something highly self-destructive — take the short route, not the long and winding road.