In 1988 I was an 13 year old 8th Grader at Sacred Heart Middle School. I was a smart kid, a good student, and was able to hold my own at most sports I tried, was even better than average at a couple. But I was a complete outcast. It was a crass, nasty, crude environment and I blamed it all on a birth defect that forced me to be the subject of regular ridicule by the cool kids. Many of them sucked at sports, couldn’t read at the 3rd grade level let alone make the honor roll… and I was bitter, I was mad.
One day in Earth Science class one of the worst bullies made a crude remark about my ears, every body laughed. Sometimes I even laughed laughed when they did this because I just didn’t know what emotion to express and my heart was breaking on the inside and I was trying to be tough on the outside. Like a complete loser I turned and gave the kid the middle finger, naturally earning me some more taunts from the 8th grade class. Even my few friends were ashamed of me that day.
That night, I told my parents about what happened. I have magnificent parents. They did everything they ever could to make my life better, including moving us to another state and sacrificing otherwise good careers. My father was upset, but not because I was picked on… again… but because my ability to stand up for myself was weak. Despite two years of Karate, I was too much of a wimp to use it. That night, my father stood in my room… keep in mind he is a big man… and turned his big gut in to a punching bag and told me to unload. I punched more times and harder than I ever had in my life, I cried, I laughed… I probably even cussed, which on a normal day was most certainly not acceptable.
I knew what I had to do. The next day in the gym locker room, that same bully decided to revisit his slander of me in front of all of the guys once again. I wasted no time… I wound up and hit him square in the nose with my right fist. It was not the school yard brawl with two boys locked together throwing punches that would have virtually no effect and never land. One punch, he was down… it was over, his nose was bleeding. I got a few pats on the back, the head Nun gave me a hug later because she knew what I was going through. My parents were proud.
My life didn’t change much after that, I was still a geeky kid focused on what I wanted to focus on. My friends were few… but to the best of my recollection I was never the victim of that kind of bullying again. It was the defining moment in my life to that point for sure, and maybe even now through my 41 years.
Now, my daughter is 3 years old. When she goes to the park she likes to give hugs, she makes friends really easy. She helps others up the stairs and encourages and cheers them down the slides. At 3, she is the most unselfish human being I’ve ever met.
She is already seeing what a cruel world it can be but pays little mind, kids/parents pushing in front of line to get on rides quicker, taking of toys, even some little kid hitting some times. I’ve said ever since Trump picked on that handicapped reporter that I would have a terrible time supporting someone who would do that. My daughter will be 11 years old at the conclusion of a Donald Trump 8 year Presidency should that happen. I don’t hate Donald Trump, there are even a few things I like and politically he moved the dial in a positive direction with me by picking Mike Pence. But I completely understand why Ted Cruz did what he did… and support it. He laid out his principles, those which were once the hallmark of the Republican Party and gave Donald Trump a perfect road map forward to earn the support of his naysayers.
Since 8th grade, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to stand up to bullies, in the work place, in politics etc… Some times I do, some times I don’t. I believe with all of my heart and soul, that Ted Cruz did something many of us dream of doing, and often fall flat. He stood on principle. He stood up to a man who berated his wife, his father and many others. He did what he has done since Day 1, he stood for principle, no matter how tough the consequences may be. This could be political suicide for him, this could be a brilliant move. Time will tell.
In the Summer of 2015 I picked Ted Cruz to work for because I liked him on policy, loved his brilliance, saw in him the family man I hope other see me as and I know I see my father as. I even picked him in part because of professional aspiration, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I may still very well vote for Donald Trump and MIKE PENCE, and don’t think that in any way violates my allegiance to Ted Cruz. Remember, he said “Vote your conscience,” He did not say… “Don’t vote for Donald Trump!” Ted Cruz stood up to his bully, it’s not just Donald Trump, it’s the establishment repeatedly trying to beat him in to submission at the expense of his values and principles. They tried again this week and again they failed.
Many comments I’m seeing today are saying his decision was all about 2020. It’s fair to make that accusation, this is politics after all. But I think if 2020 was all he was worried about, he may not have done this at all. The risk in his decision may be far greater than the possible reward. Few that love Ted Cruz have any different opinion of him today. Those who hate him will do so for a long time. I think his decision was a political wash. I also think it was a question of morals and values that he needed to address to honor what is in his heart, in his gut and in his mind. Getting on stage and speaking is a major phobia for many, imagine doing it knowing thousands were going to boo you.
I don’t think I would have done what he did last night. That’s not said to dismiss his speech, it’s to honor it.
For those facing their own demons, bullies, establishments (welcome to the GOP), etc… he stood up for a lot of people last night. At the end of the day, he stood up for many of us, he stood up for many 8th graders getting picked on by bullies.
Most importantly, at the end of the day, he stood up for himself, his family, and his values. And in this life, that’s all that really matters.
PS- Love you Dad!