Editorial Notebooks

Actions have consequences

Remember way back in middle school/beginning of high school, that long chain e-mail that got passed around about a boy named Kyle who was bullied? Well, if you don’t remember it or haven’t received such an e-mail, here is a quick version of it:

One day during the narrator’s freshman year in high school, he witnessed another student, Kyle, being bullied by others. They knocked his books down—the narrator first thought Kyle was a nerd because he was carrying so many books home on a Friday afternoon—and ran off. The narrator goes over and helps Kyle pick up his books and one thing led to another and they became best friends. By the time graduation came Kyle had filled out, looked great with glasses, and was very popular. At graduation, Kyle was valedictorian and revealed during his speech that he had planned to kill himself over the weekend when they first met. He had been cleaning out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later. Thankfully, his best friend saved him from doing the “unspeakable.”

I learned a lot from this story; it showed me how a simple small gesture such as helping someone pick up their books can create such an impact on another person. Never mind that the story was fictional, it made me realize how small I am compared to the universe. It might sound weird to make such a gigantic leap, but it makes sense to me. See, each action that you do creates a ripple, that ripple in turn touches other people (be it in a good way or bad way), and that causes other people to make their own ripples.

When I remembered about Kyle’s story the other day, it made me reflect on the things that I have done in my life. Did I do good things? Or did I do harmful things to other people? How did my actions affect them? What if I inadvertently hurt others when I didn’t mean to? Did I inspire change for the good or for the bad? And the most important question, to me at least, is what did I do to create a positive impact?

This brings me back to something I said to one of my friends back in high school. I meant it in a joking way, I never meant for it to hurt anyone, but it did. I didn’t know that what I perceived as an okay joke could hurt someone else so deeply. What I didn’t know before was my friend had been ill-treated emotionally by her father throughout her childhood, what I said was something that her father used to berate her with daily, using a commonly used phrase and turning it into a verbal whip to emotionally hurt her. This caused her to be depressed for the next three days before I could figure out what I did and make amends.

Now you see what a simple sentence that you might think is okay could do to hurt other people. I urge you to go back today and think about Kyle’s story. Bullying is a great concern throughout our lives. It’s not always physical, there are many different types of bullying and you can actually do it by accident. You might do something that can hurt someone else without knowing you did. That’s why it’s hard to monitor your actions sometimes.

Remember that your actions will always cause a reaction in others. It can be good or it can be bad. Try making a difference in someone else’s life in a positive way instead of going about destroying others. Why not go out and make a new friend today? Go lend a hand, get to know someone better, or do some community service to help nurture growth. You never know; you could be saving someone’s life or at the very least provide them with one more person to call a friend.