A version of this story can be found in my book, Life Lessons from the School Bus.
OK, I will admit it, once you read what this is all about you will tell me that I am being politically incorrect, insensitive, or mean-spirited. You will say that the title of this post is inappropriate and beneath me (well, the beneath part is right). You may tell me that I should not make fun of those who are “vertically challenged.”
If you say these things because you think I am making fun of short, small, or otherwise non-tall people, then think again. I am only being humorous at their expense to make a point. Actually, it won’t be at their expense for long. I am going to pay the bill.
Children Can be Cruel
You know it’s true – children can be cruel, especially around people who are “different.” When driving around a bus load of elementary children, one can hear a lot of cruel comments come from their little, angelic, crumb-crunching mouths.
Little girls, as well as little boys, can get downright mean with the things that they say. However, they have no idea of the lasting consequences of their teasing. They have yet to sit through months or years of counseling.
Because kids can be cruel, even when they don’t mean to be, I try to steer them (literally) away from opportunity. But on one occasion, even though I did the best I could, the kids jumped at the chance to gawk and laugh. I will never forget what I saw.
Choosing Not to Hear
One day I was driving my school bus down a two-lane road when just ahead of me I spotted a dwarf…a short guy…a midget…walking by the curb. Immediately, I knew what was about to happen.
Right ahead of where this guy was walking was a place I had to make a stop. Sadly, I could not just speed on by, but had to slow down. When the first child saw this little man it didn’t take long for the 20+ others to shift over to that side of the bus to take a look. In an instant there was laughter.
But in all honesty, the laughter was not all that loud. My kids are aware that stuff like that makes me angry, so they try not to get caught. So, only if one had been really listening or paying attention could that person have heard the giggles and jokes. The little man on the road didn’t want to take any chances.
As soon as I started to pass by this 3ft-tall little bald guy with biker tattoos (wearing a tank top and little jeans), he did something that really broke my heart -he put his finger in his ear. He knew what was coming, and he didn’t want to hear.
That simple action said a whole lot.
- He had heard cruel laughter before
- He expected to hear it again
- He knew what kinds of things would be said
- He did not have the will, nor the ability to defend himself
- He decided to not listen, but to close his ears
Sadly, many are convinced what other people say about them is true.
The jeers and the laughter not only offend, but they cut deeply, causing irreparable scarring and pain. How many have given up? How many have quit defending themselves?
One of the characteristics of a true Christian should be that he defends the defenseless, the ones who can not speak up for themselves. Psalm 82:3 says that we should “defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” Couldn’t this also apply to standing up for those who are made fun of or mocked unjustly?
Consider the words of Jesus: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:31). What kind of person would want to be laughed at because of something he/she could not help?
The next time you are tempted, consider what you are doing. The next time you are around someone, even a child, who makes fun of another person, stop and take the time to “defend” and “do justice.”
Don’t walk around with a finger in your ear.