There are not a lot of things that haunt me from my past, but this is something that still bothers me, even now.
In high school my parents were very protective. If I was invited to go to a friend’s house, my parents had to have met not only my friends but their parents as well. So when random house parties happened, I couldn’t go. I remember one week my senior year some people in my class talking about a party that was going to happen on Friday. One of my classmates skipped school to make hundreds Jell-O shots. It was that serious.
On Monday, as one of my friends and I were walking from the parking lot to the steps that led to the school there were tons of people yelling, clapping, and laughing. There were a lot of flyers posted on the steps, and people were running around holding them. The assistant principals were angry and yelling at those students who had them in their hands, and were individually snatching them from people and putting the flyers against their chest, with the content facing them. Random things always seemed to happen at my school, like bagel food fights, and random elections for things, so I didn’t think anything about it. Until I saw a girl that I had a few classes with named Dana* crying and walking fast toward the parking lot. Alarmed I asked her what’s wrong, but she kept on walking to her car. I was shocked because at my school, once you’re on the campus, you can’t leave, but the assistant principals or security wasn’t stopping her.
By the time I got up to central terrace a mandatory meeting was called with all the students. As everyone sat down, the Principal expressed his disgust and outrage. The police arrived, threatened punishment, and the entire time, I had no idea what was happening, until someone finally filled me in. At the party, Dana, who indulged in too much alcohol, began performing explicit acts with other students. People took pictures on their digital cameras, made flyers, and posted them all over the school.
Within a week, she transferred to another school. The thing that haunts me about this whole situation is that Dana seemed to have a strong group of friends, but those same friends were the ones who were taunting her, and made the flyers.
To this day, this stays with me. It made me wonder, what part of it was malicious and what part of it was herd mentality? What made people so vicious to want to destroy someone who had been held so highly before, and then tear them down in the time that it took them to distribute those flyers all over the campus?
This type of behavior to hurt first ask later isn’t just evident in high schools, but also in adults as well. According to the New York Post, after the Boston Marathon bombings, before suspects were named, a Bangladeshi man in the Bronx was brutally beaten by three or four Hispanic men because he was a “f——- Arab.”
With all events that are similar, it always makes me wonder, where are the voices of reason? That one person who refuses to go with the herd and speak up for what’s right? When others are working off of emotion, where is the logical voice to encourage people to think before they hurt?
I’m saying all of that to say this: Just because a herd is going in one particular direction doesn’t mean that we all have to follow. There has to be someone who will speak up, and it’s okay if you’re the lone voice. It’s scary to possibly put yourself on blast for what’s right, but that’s what our society needs, for more people to want to stop the wrongs, speak out to help guide the lost to the right direction.
If the voice is missing, maybe you could try to use yours.