When I was writing Unrest, I tried to convey that through all walks of life, no matter who you are, where you are, you'll confront bullying. Whether it's the rich "friend" at school, the less fortunate classmate that may be envious, or a person who is prejudiced or bigoted against you for your ideas, opinions, thoughts, and/or faith, it'll happen sometime in your life. Or it might happen often. You may even be guilty of bullying accidentally or intentionally yourself.
The world is a busy, media-filled place, and bullying today can be worse than when I was a kid. When I was writing Unrest I had to really remember what it was actually like when I was young. I had to concentrate not to write in a cell phone or a computer in my coming-of-age story of a young American woman in Iran in the late 1970's facing civil unrest, based loosely on my own experiences. I found myself bittersweet at the memories of playing outside until dark, watching three television stations that turned to static at the close of programming, after The Star Spangled Banner.
I was thinking that perhaps it's easy to be angry at people, intolerant, when you are lacking a personal connection, when you tweet out something rude rather than say it. When you are not there to see a personal reaction like hurt or heart break on the other person's face. When you can say immediately, "Sorry! I was a jerk!"
Personal connections allow for these kind of checks and balances. Isn't it better not to judge and have an open mind, embrace people and make them feel worthy? That they belong? To express tolerance? I remember feeling more hunted by a bully at an American school I attended than by any of the protestors during civil unrest in Tehran.
And electronics. Wouldn't it be nice to see people looking ahead when they walk down the street? Waving hello rather than carefully studying their cell phones? To see two people in conversation at a restaurant rather than conversing with their cell phones and not each other? I know I'm blogging right now (such hypocrisy!). I love technology, don't get me wrong, but a little change, as well as kindness and tolerance towards humankind would make the world a much better place.
So, maybe when you go to that restaurant tonight and are feasting on that perfectly charred steak or a succulent roasted free-range chicken on a brick, put away that cell phone. Or when you are on a crowded bus and instinctively grab for your phone or work memo to review in your "solitariness", talk to the person next to you. I'll do the same. I'll see if I'm able to convince my two sons to do the same!