My cruelty in High School
There are events from my early teenage years that still haunt me to this day….wounding memories that bring to mind aspects of myself that are painful to even contemplate, but must, in order for those seeds that led to the events when young…. don’t grow and consume me. I don’t understand why so many people react to the concept of ‘sin’, through granted it is often misused and has been wounding too many. However, it seems that to not believe in the reality of ‘sin’ or, the likely possibly of ‘transgression’ can lead to something worse. In some spiritual paths the word ‘ignorance’ is used instead of sin, which can work, since it is not hard to do very bad things, evil things against others and be ignorant of the depth of harm that was committed, or to use another word, the transgression committed against another human being.
I was 13 and in High School, in Panama, Canal, Cristobal High, it was 1962. There was a young man who was a senior at the time (well I think he was), I did not know him and I don’t think he even knew I was alive…. for five years difference in age is a lot when that young. I will not use his real name for obvious reasons. He would be 68 or 69 at this time and perhaps what happened has been forgotten by him; or forgiven, well I hope so. There was gossip going around that he was “queer”, that was the word used at that time for homosexuals. I had no proof that this was true, and I am not sure it meant anything to me in any case.
The poor kid was hounded everywhere he went, in a cruel manner and it was incessant, though of course not by all, for the majority did not chime in. I did however, the jeering and name calling. It happened when I was with a group…. by myself, no. One scene I remember was at the Ft. Gulick teenage club. There was a group of us sitting on a couch and he came over and sat with us, we all got up and left him alone.... an act of contempt that I am sure he felt deeply. It was so easy to do and I can’t say I did not know what I was doing, no, I knew all right, I just wanted to belong This scene has been burned into my mind and can’t get rid of it. I am not suffering from neurotic guilt, but I believe that this image is a guard at the gate of my heart that is not always filled with light and love. A warning pointing to what I am capable of and how walled in, cold and uncaring, I can make my heart.
When I was in the 10th grade it started to hit me the evil I participated in, though as a teenager I did not know the full extent of it. I also discovered that the harm and pain I cause others returns to me. I believe that cruelty is still in me along side the part of me that wants to be loving and caring. The great inner divide that I believe most of us seek to find healing for, most I believe a life long journey. No, sin for me means that I have the freedom to choose, I am not a victim of my past, though I can be influenced by it and when I fall I can freely take responsibility for my choices.
If I could meet this young man (now near 70) from my past, I would ask to talk to him and even if he does not remember my part in his taunting, I would ask for his forgiveness. I have prayed for him all these years and actually for all of those that I have hurt. As I grow, I believe my ability to transgress against is still there and when I do sin , it is greater, because now being older I do not have the excuse of being just a teenager.
Images from the past
When I close my eyes to pray,
or just to sleep,
the faces of those I hurt,
people rebuffed, or ignored, or overlooked,
set aside so I could belong,
being part of the mob is not what it seems,
a slice of humanity must be set aside,
a self wounding that bleeds eternally,
until healing and forgiveness is received.
When God forgives, the wound can stay,
a reminder of the importance of seeing others,
loving and treating with love and compassion
all who come before ones path.