A friend of mine sent me a copy of a poem by a seventh-grade student, the son of one of her husband's law partners. The boy entered it in a poetry contest--which he won. Reading it confirmed my belief that if we could just kill off my generation--or at least keep us from voting!--the gay community would be much closer to achieving equal rights.
Here is the poem:
When you watch it happen, stunned with shock,
Will you let it happen? Will you cease to talk?
Will you turn your head, and hang it low
When you hear and see each vicious blow?
If you stride away from this heartless deed
Merely thinking, "better you than me,"
You will look back, and regret to no end
The day you deserted some queer who wasn't your friend.
More lonely than stupid that boy was that day,
When all he needed to save him was anyone's voice to say
"Whoah guys, this isn't cool, back off, leave him alone."
But what he got instead, were words that stung like stones.
He didn't deserve a word of it; he didn't step on anyone's crop.
But he fell into a brutal cycle that no one dared to stop.
You simply looked on, and let each word go.
You merely ignored him, when every harsh word would grow.
That boy ended up hurt, by wounds that would never mend.
While your only thought was, "That kid's not my friend!"
If you don't end it, who will? It will just keep getting worse.
Every taunt, jeer, name, tear, joke, label and curse.
So next time you see a kid who's lonely, doubtful and weak
Will you turn away and let him be crushed,
Or will you step-up and speak.........
"Will you step up and speak" is a question asked by far too few adults, let alone 7th graders. Let's hope it becomes a much more common one.