An Honest Reflection on Pink Shirt Day from Beckler

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is when good men do nothing.”  

That quote of unknown origin (though often misattributed to Edmund Burke) hits at the heart of my thoughts on Pink Shirt Day this year.  

Pink Shirt Day began in 2007, the same year I graduated from high school, meaning no such day existed for folks my age and older. Our concept of bullying was more in line with the cartoonish bullies from movies and TV. Nelson Muntz, Bif Tannen, Regina George.  

As the national conversation around bullying has evolved over the years, I find myself thinking about Pink Shirt Day from two angles; as a dad trying to raise my two sons to be resilient yet compassionate, while reflecting on my own relationship with bullying growing up.  

I was fortunate to have only rarely been the target of bullying as a young person and in those instances, it was never very severe. I’m sure there were times I was on the other side of things, where I could have been kinder to my classmates and peers who were more vulnerable than myself. And I regret those moments absolutely.  

But perhaps where I feel the most guilt is when I think about the times I had the power to prevent the mistreatment of someone else and chose to remain silent. Perhaps because it was uncomfortable, or because it can cost social capital to speak up. Either way, if I could go back in time with the wisdom and hindsight of a 35-year-old, I would use what clout I had to make another kid’s road easier.  

This is the message I have been trying to instill in my own children. Every parent hopes we’ve raised our kids well enough that they would never seek to cause anyone harm. But less obvious to children of that age is the power they may have to stand up to someone who is making life difficult for another person.  

In the above not-Edmund-Burke quote, I want my sons to be the good men who do something.  

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