A letter I received from Yeshayahu Gruberger:
People say we are different and thus, because of these differences, some think its okay to bully, rape, and steal. We may be different on the outside –our color, dress, religion, and the friends we choose. However, in reality we are alike. How are we all alike? We all want one thing: Happiness. No matter whether you are Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc., no matter whether you are a drug dealer or slut, no matter how you dress — we all want the same things.
What we want is happiness.
Everyone wants and everyone is entitled to happiness. No one person has a right to prevent another person from acquiring happiness. No one has the right, just because someone is different from them, to make that person’s life a living hell. No one has the right to play G-d and decide to deprive someone else of their happiness or prevent them from doing things they believe will help them attain their happiness.
I respect all religions, but some religions prevent even this basic rule. Happiness is something we all aspire to and work for. What happens if we lose that? We wind up with lives that are dry and empty and without meaning. Personally, without happiness, I would be nowhere. It is good to have outside factors that help you to be happy but you also have to create your own happiness. Another reason we are all equal is that we come from one G-d. And if you do not believe in G-d, then we are all the same as we all inhabit the same world. All this clique groups or religious sects just cause more separation between humanity.
The stories about Phoebe Prince, Haylee Fentress and Paige Morale, and other students and people who’ve killed themselves due to the fact that they were bullied, occurred simply because they were perceived as different. These students had their happiness taken away from them by bullies. These cruel people played G-d in their own way, by their actions and thus caused pain to the victims and their family and friends. We can be like G-d by sharing and giving and not by tormenting others, especially to the point of pushing them to the point of suicide. Tormenting others does not make one high and mighty, especially if the ones being tormented are different. It only makes one a Nazi. The Nazis targeted anyone that was outside their belief of an Aryan race. This is similar to the situations where students are bullied because they are perceived to be different.
Bullying is wrong no matter what.
The issue of suicide is a whole other debate. In order for this to stop humanity has to change and if people still want to bully there has to be checks in place to prevent this so it doesn’t escalate to the point of the abused wanting to kill themselves. There must be zero tolerance for bullying. Bullying must be considered a crime. The heads of our schools have to take this serious, like any threat, because it endangers a student’s life. There has to be an open door policy to report bullying. And no matter what students report, their privacy must be respected, because if you betray trust you may have handed that student a death sentence.
Our government and our communities need to fight on behalf of those who are bullied because the victims feel they are helpless and alone. It is our obligations to make sure they have someone to tell their story to and to have someone or some place where they can go and know that they are safe and protected and cared for.
I hope and pray on behalf of those are bullied to stand up and tell your story, whether it is to a teacher, family member, or a loved one.
I hope that all of us will make sure that bullying finally comes to an end.
Grandson of Rav Berg