…Four year old boys beating up a fellow four year old classmate on the jungle gym. The victim has to go home to his loving parents with a black eye and explain his version of the story: that he simply fell off of the monkey bars.
…There is a group of people, both boys and girls, sitting in the back corner of a high school English classroom. The topic of the day is discussing Oscar Wilde’s background and his writings. A male student sitting alone towards the front of the classroom raises his hand to ask the teacher’s opinion on gay people considering Wilde’s sexual orientation. Immediately after finishing his question, the group in the back begin to laugh and audibly make comments about how the boy, wearing a purple button up and fitted khaki pants, is “queer” and “dressed up for a date with his boyfriend later.” The boy ignores it because he knows he is dressed up to go visit his grandmother for her birthday after school.
…A girl on a college campus decides to wear a dress to a party on a Saturday night. She doesn’t wear it for anyone else but herself— to make her feel pretty and confident. As she walks through the party, a boy, probably a fellow classmate, runs his hand up her leg and tries to get under her dress. Since then, that girl is afraid to wear dresses anywhere, even to class, for fear of looking too suggestive.
Each of these situations are completely different yet they all have negativity in common. When I think of the word bullying, my mind immediately goes to the first scenario of the little boys on the playground. Since the word bullying gets a juvenile reputation, I’ll stick with using negativity for the duration of this article. Anyway, I have personally seen each of these types of incidents happen first hand and will be the first one to say that they are all unnecessary.
Every day on the news I see a new story about negative actions such as crime, riots, or violence. Nowadays, we see more negativity making the news than positive and constructive things such as fundraising events and volunteering. These serious actions of violence and hatred are fueled by the small actions that take place on the playground and on the college campuses such as I mentioned earlier. If we as college students start small and focus on making a safe and positive environment for everyone, events such as school shootings would not be so frequent. Creating world peace is a huge task that I’m not sure we will ever achieve but there are simple things we can do daily that can create happiness rather than fueling negativity.
First, positivity can be spread through one comment. Say “Good Morning” to the maintenance worker you see on your way to class or work. Hold the door and smile at anyone you see. Being a student at John Carroll University, these things seem to happen without thinking too much about it which is great to be in such an environment. However, not many places grant such benefits. Going out of your way each day to make someone smile is sometimes all it takes to better someone’s life.
On a slightly larger scale, volunteering for those who don’t have as much as we do is extremely important. Again, at John Carroll it is easy to sign up for service anytime I can but there are many opportunities outside of campus to give back to the community! Need to update your wardrobe? Donate your old clothes to the Salvation Army for those who can’t afford new things. Another idea is volunteering at your local food bank or soup kitchen on days that aren’t just Christmas and Easter. They always need help, not just on big holidays. Look in your city’s newspaper for more ideas because, trust me, there are tons of opportunities.
To address the second scenario from above, homophobia is not an acceptable quality anymore. We are in an age where gays and lesbians are able to feel comfortable expressing who they are and who they love. Who are we to judge? We can crush this negative energy floating around our country by stopping the stereotypes. Whether your classmate is gay or not, you probably don’t know the real answer or the story behind the way he is dressed. Whoever you are judging is a person too, with real feelings! Yes, they have feelings too. Don’t put someone down just because you feel that you can. Although we may not agree with the decisions everyone around us is making, negativity is not needed because we aren’t put on Earth to judge. As Angeline Jolie said, “I believe in living on impulse as long as you never intentionally hurt another person, and don’t judge people in your life. I think you should live completely free.”
Going back to the negative example of the dressed up girl at the college party, sexual abuse is another thing we need to address to achieve a more positive environment in our country. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only 30% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities. With that being said, the number of reported rapes was 346,830 in 2012. So how can we stop this? It might seem unreachable but if you are ever in a questionable situation or witness something suspicious, report it, or at least help a friend if you see her getting unwanted attention. It goes back to the little things. Being aware of your surroundings and reaching out to a friend who might become a victim is sometimes just enough to help. On the other hand, we need to make more people aware of these numbers and keep promoting the negativity and harm of sexual abuse. On John Carroll’s campus, we have this awesome thing called “Take Back the Night” each year where sexual violence awareness is the main topic. If there were more of these organized events, the majority of people would be a lot more aware of the negativity fueled by sexual abuse.
Even celebrities are trying to help spread positivity in every way, every day. Did you know Johnny Depp takes his Captain Jack Sparrow costume with him everywhere so he can visit sick kids whenever he wants to help make someone’s day? No matter what you do, good intentions are all you need to make positivity spread even just a little bit.