Be a Friend

February 17, 2004

Perhaps you have seen this story.  It is a familiar one replayed in hundreds of schools across the Country each year.

The first day of school.  The first day can be hard on someone.  They want to be accepted.  They want things to go right.  They don't want to worry about what others think of them.  They go into the place eager to make new friends and meet new people.

He is new here.  He feels uncertain, but he begins to relax as he finds people who seem to like him and care.  He begins to feel he's found friends.

Yet, it seems that he did something wrong, or was different in someone else's eyes and they took an immediate dislike to him.  They let  him know too by telling him so using many painful words.  Not satisfied with just letting him know, his antagonizer went to his friends and told them what's "wrong" with the new boy.  His antagonist told them that it wouldn't be prudent to been seen hanging out with the new boy anymore.  They listened and acted on his words.  The word got around quickly, and soon others are whispering amongst themselves.  He begins to notice how others avoid him and his self-confidence begins to wane.

Some do try and reach out towards him, of course, but are quickly scolded by others who don't care for him.  They too turn away.

He puts up a front of not really caring what the others think.  But he knows it is not true.  The sadness and pain grow.  "Why are you doing this?"  he asks.  He only hears silence in reply.

He starts to break down after constant torment from others.  No matter how much he just wanted to be fit in and be friends, no one will accept him.  His self-confidence is shattered and broken.  He goes through many emotions, from helplessness, to depression, to anger.  He pleads to whomever to make things right, to leave him alone, to be a friend.  Why won't someone hear him?  Why won't someone notice his pain?  Why won't someone help?  In his despair, he allows his thoughts to turn to ending his miserable life…

Finally, though, someone does get the courage to ignore the gossip and hateful words.  Finally, someone reaches out to him letting him know that he is "okay," that he is accepted.  With the example set, others soon reach out too.  Finding acceptance, his fragile self-confidence begins to rebuild.  He starts to find hope in the new day.

In each of our lives we will have opportunities to reach out to someone in need, perhaps at the disapproval of our peers.  It will sometimes take tremendous inner strength and courage to stand up and oppose the wishes of your friends, but it is the right thing.  As you travel home this evening, ask yourself, "When the opportunity presents itself, will I find the courage to oppose my friends and reach out to someone in need?"

Good night, gentlemen.