Standing Up

My older son has had some issues with bullying during this school year. Thankfully, they have not been major, and I am hopeful that they are over.  My wife’s advice to our son is, “Walk away, and tell someone.”

Bullying image courtesy of Google.

Bullying image courtesy of Google.

The advice I offer is a bit more nuanced. I recently advised him about an incident at his lunch table. I told him to firmly say to the bully, “Get up or shut up,” and to report it to whoever is in charge.

BR is passive (except when he is around his little brother). While I certainly don’t want him to turn into a bully himself, I don’t want him to be afraid or feel uncomfortable standing up for himself in whatever walk of life.

The purpose of Memorial Day is to remember the veterans who have fallen during war. These courageous individuals paid a terrible price to protect our country and the freedoms that we enjoy. They deserve our respect, admiration, appreciation, and attention. However, I wish there was no need for this day. How many lives have been wasted because of war? The number, whatever it may be is too terrible to count. As Bob Dylan said in Blowin’ in the Wind: Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died.


Courtesy of Google

Courtesy of Google

Yet, sometimes fighting/war is the absolute right thing to do. No, it should not be the first option. No, it is not something to be aspired to. But it may be the only solution.

We are in the middle of the war on terror. Iran is racing towards a nuclear weapon. North Korea continues to provoke its neighbors and the US itself. I wish these things were not occurring. I would prefer that we could reason with these entities/countries. I would rather we find an accommodation that would satisfy everyone. Unfortunately, all indications including recent negotiations, offers, and discussions point to these entities/countries being unwilling to be reasonable. They are bellicose in their ways and expect the U.S. and the West in general to roll over and allow their desires to come to fruition.

President Obama has apparently decided that the war on terror is in a new phase, that there is still time to negotiate with Iran (before they acquire nuclear weapons), and that North Korea can be handled. I believe that the president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world.  While the president can attempt to amend and convince other countries of a course of action, he can not decide the desires and the goals of other countries. Nobody has that kind of power.

I don’t envy the president. He (and someday a she) has to make the decision when force is necessary. He has to decide when to put soldiers – young men and women – in harm’s way. I hope and expect the president to recognize when force is necessary and pray that he will take appropriate action.  There will be more soldiers to mourn and miss on future Memorial Days.

I want my son to stand up for himself. I want him to know that he can take care of himself. I want him to use reason and be firm. I want him to work with the authorities that be.  If all else fails, I expect him to use force. Maybe not a nuclear weapon, but if he has to throw a punch to express his confidence, I’m ok with that.

There are times when one must stand up for one’s self. Memorial Day reminds us of this difficult lesson.