Thursday, March 13, 2014

Professor Swift's Counsel on Bullying

We are approaching the  baseball season and that brings to mind for me a baseball book that we published on the Fred Merkle. On several occasions, I have written about the lessons that can be communicated through Mike Cameron's book: Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle. In Cameron's book, the story of Fred Merkle's life unfolds in the historical context of the 1908 baseball season and then in the aftermath that showed how Merkle and his family continued to be bullied in a sense by the American public and the press for doing something that was not wrong or uncommon.

If you follow education developments today, you know many people are constantly discussing the bullying problem in our schools and society. Although we live in a diverse society, it seems like kids from all kinds of backgrounds are bullying other kids who are somehow different.

I thought I would once again ask my old friend and educational guru Professor Johnny Swift of Dublin for help. I wanted to share my recent line of inquiry with Swift here:

SCP Larry: Professor, you've probably heard about bullying here in the states and what a big problem it is for students and educators. Is it new or did it exist in your time.

Professor Swift: Well, people have probably set out to hurt other folks who are somehow different from them since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. In my day, people like myself had pasty-skin and wore funky wigs. You know this if you have looked at any of my portraits. I can tell you that if I happened to walk by a pub after a poetry reading on a Saturday night dressed in my best outfit, it could get nasty.

SCP Larry: So what did you do?

Professor Swift: Well, I moved to London. I may have looked like an odd ball in Ireland, but I fit right in with the London crowd. Besides you could whistle for a cab or copper in London. In Dublin, if I whistled someone would just think I was trying to play street music and make a few pence.

SCP Larry: Well, I guess that might have worked for you back in the day, but do you have any advice for people today?

Professor Swift: Well, as a teacher, I can make a few comments for them. First, if you need to use your stick, make sure your aim is very good--it's never good to hit the wrong kid. If you hit the wrong kid, it's bullying. Second, make a lot of tall friends and hang out with horses.

SCP Larry:  You can't be serious, Professor. 

Professor Swift: Not really.  To all my teacher friends and others in authority, I'd say this: "power is no blessing in itself, unless used to protect the innocent." And to those bullied I'd remind them regardless of how it feels at time, you are never alone,   And remember, "when a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in confederacy against him."

And to all my friends in the 21st Century let me just say: "May you live all the days of your life."

(Written in the spirit of A Modest Proposal.)

Copyright 2014, Sporting Chance Press

 Update: Sporting Chance Press's Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey now available--March 2014!  Order your copies here  for immediate shipment.