Back in 1985 a page was torn from a paperback novel, not mistakenly, but with clear intent to do so.
The novel belonged-at least temporarily-to one Colleen Sanders. An eighth-grade student in a small town school, Colleen had borrowed the novel from the school's library. Its pages were just starting to yellow, as happens to so many made of poor stock. Snatched from her hands on the school bus ride home that day, the book became the property of not the regular school bus tormentors, but rather of four of her classmates.
Tossing it about amongst themselves, they ignored her pleas to return it. Playing to the jeers of support from the regular tormentors, the four taunted her by making small tears in some of the pages.
And then it happened. A page was ripped from the book. Feeding on the power it is to be the bully instead of the bullied, one of the four ripped the page in half, and in half again. And again.
Oh Colleen, now you can go home and tape it back together!
But that night she didn't.
And the four aspiring bullies met with punishment. A month's worth of lunch hours spent in the library organizing and reorganizing books.
But as a result of that month, one of the four never again stepped into the bully shoes. Bullies may have their moments of power, but the bullied learn so much more. Empathy, compassion, tolerance, strength, resolve.
Thank you, Colleen.