This writer like most people my age (often referred to as the “baby boomers”) or older, remember hearing parents and teachers say, “Sticks and stone can break your bones but words can never hurt you”.
Unlike that old adage, words like names are important.
As my career in Psychology, ministry and counseling developed, it became more and more evident that words do mean things and they often hurt; they actually hurt allot.
This matter of bullying seems to be almost of epidemic proportions in our schools, in our public places and right out in the open in front of authorities.
It is simply out of control but why?
My father who passed away recently spent allot of time with me on the subject of “bullying”.
He instilled in me that with a name like “Outlaw” it wasn't a matter of “if” but rather when and how often people would try to bully me; just because of my name.
Dad used to tell me that people were going to make fun and challenge my very personality based on my name alone; he knew it all too well. He had lived it as a kid and already gone through it.
He used to tell me that other kids would “bully” me just to try and get me to “bully” back; live up to their idea of what the name “Outlaw” meant to them but Dad said to just ignore them because my name like words meant something.
He used to tell me stories about how he and his two brothers and five sisters were bullied all the time simply because of their name.
But my grandfather Outlaw (also Lee Wylie Outlaw like my father, myself and my oldest son) always told them how proud he was of his children for not giving in and being bullies themselves.
My father often spoke of how people in the community would complement my grandfather and grandmother on how well behaved the “Outlaw” children were and how they did not pick on or bully the other children of the community as many would assume they would simply because of their name.
The same is true with my three sisters and I as well my three sons and daughter; we usually get complemented on our name and personalities rather than mocked, made fun of or bullied and it’s mainly because of the desire to remember who we really are and from where we came.
We are not criminals or anti-law as the “Old English” and “old west” name of Outlaw implied but rather the descendants of share croppers (nothing more than a fancy word for Southern white slavery) and Cherokee Native Americans who worked hard and attempt every day to make a better life for ourselves and those around us.
Bullying is and never has been a good thing.
The key to deterring and over coming bullying in our children, teens and even adults starts in the home by example from parents and grandparents.
When parents focus on helping their children know who they are, where they came from and the importance of maintaining honor to their family name, their children spend less time looking down on others and their human frailties.
They tend to be less angry and arrogant and more confident.
Knowing who we are and emphasizing that to our children and grandchildren helps build honor, integrity and character while helping them eliminate focusing on the differences in others.
My father like most of his day made sure I could physically defend myself but he also taught me how to “win friends and influence my enemies”. He taught me how to laugh at myself and join in with others who would laugh at my name or me; as a result I usually turned the bullies into my friends and “de-bullied” them.
The bottom line is nobody has to be a bully and parents should spend time demonstrating that to their children.
Fathers especially need to emphasize wisdom and spiritual strength along with the physical and when the physical side of self-defense is taught “mean spiritedness” should be eliminated.
Most of us would probably agree that there are far too many “mean spirited” people out there and it is usually these unhappy, mean spirited people who end up becoming bullies.
Believe me, when you’re born with the name Outlaw and your ancestry is one of share croppers, English debtor’s prisoners who helped to settle Georgia as a British Prison Colony combined with being part Cherokee Native American, it would have been very easy to become a bully.
By the way, this is not to imply Cherokee or other Native Americans are bullies. We are not.
Thank God, because of the Godly men my father and grandfather were, I did not become a bully.
Thank you Dad for training me well; your wisdom will be long remembered and you will be truly missed.
©Copyright 2014 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III