The ‘terror attack’ of 9-11 seared a memory that permanently changed the lives and minds of many, it represented the ultimate in bullying. Post-traumatic experiences burn a scar on the mind with both a pain-filled fear and a hate towards the terror inducer. This average mind and that of all in our family were rocked in the same year of 9-11. It was forever branded as ‘3-11’ day by we who were touched by the bullet of a bully. Indeed, it was a family’s worst nightmare on that horrible evening of March 11, 2001. * Eighteen years later, I tell the story of the biggest lesson gained and how to be sure to Put an End to Bullying. * Times updated 3-7-19
On March 11, 2001, our family of ten lost a sister and a 12-year old boy lost a Mother. The memory of the night still brings pain, so much so I leave you the option to download the PDF and read the details as printed by a local (Columbus, OH) magazine, in lieu of painfully re-writing the story. March-11_2001_Columbus-Monthly
They say burying one of your own children is worst than any other fate a parent can face. Imagine the horror for a mother, to hear and see, that not only had her daughter been murdered, but also she found out about it from the news channel on TV. I vividly remember talking to Mom seconds after seeing it on TV myself. She was crying and sobbing, not something this strong woman did very often, saying why would he do such a thing, WHY?
My reaction and those of the rest of us was, of course, sorrow for our sister, Mary (whom we lovingly called Moo which is short for the Polish Moushka), but also an almost uncontrollable anger to want to go and take care of that fiend. The hate was so deep I am sure given the opportunity I would have been willing to be the judge and executioner at his trial. Interestingly as I spoke to the police one mentioned their number one job in any crime is to catch the criminal, not to only capture ‘them’, but to protect vigilante type relatives like myself from doing something stupid and ending up having more lives ruined needlessly.
For the next couple of months, I was consumed with my sister’s case. Perhaps it revived what I thought was my calling years prior to be an FBI agent. But, like then, I was quickly finding my disappointment in the justice system was the right decision to exit it. I wanted justice for my sister’s killer. The only possible verdict I wanted was an eye for an eye, death penalty. I found, although Ohio had the death penalty, a single killing was not enough for him to be charged with a death penalty type crime.
The burn in my heart was deep so I jumped into the prosecutors’ case to convince them more than one crime was intended. The monster had more than one loaded weapon in her car, and a stun gun. I nearly had the prosecutor agreeing that he had intentions to hurt more than just my sister. My belief and hers was his intention was to go after a few more people, most likely her twelve-year-old son and Father. Vengeance is a powerful force, and I was filled with it. I had felt hopeless, being unable to protect one of my five sisters. It was my job to watch over them and ensure they were safe. Like all who rallied around the 9-11 attacks, we all pull out our fight mode to both protect and seek justice.
As the facts were gathered, the prosecutor said they had a solid case for life imprisonment. However, if they sought the death penalty as our family wanted (I had convinced most everyone that is what ‘we all’ wanted) and a jury said ‘not guilty’ to a higher crime charged, he could get off completely free. She said she would go for whatever charge we chose and would do her best to help fulfill it. I was forced to make a decision.
Weeks later, I received a call from who I thought was the prosecutor. I thoroughly expected to hear her try again to convince me to seek the lesser charge. I answered my car phone and it was indeed a female’s voice, but not that of the prosecutor. Instead, the voice of a local newscaster who had interviewed our family was on the other end of the phone. She provided the shocking news that my sister’s murderer was found in his jail cell, dead from a massive heart attack.
She asked if I would make a filmed statement on behalf of the family, which I did. The news reporter reviewed the whole story. She weaved in the ending I had hoped they would which stated, ‘we were leery the system would not dole out the death penalty, but today, God fulfilled the justice that we all sought for our sister, by executing justice upon him.’ I later reflected on the cause;
Emotions, opinions, and lack of understanding in cases of bullying and terrorism have infiltrated our world to the maximum.
I so wanted the final result of justice carried out upon this bully. I also wanted to see him suffer as we were suffering, rot in jail, squirm during a trial, and die a slow painful tortuous death. We were spared of the long drawn out trial. Looking back, I am so glad it ended that way.
By contrast, to 9-11, a long drawn out war followed the attack on our soil. It cost many more lives to dole out justice on a group of terrorists, yet today the bully is still inflicting terror. In the case of the hell our family went through, it thankfully ended with a simple cold, cut, and dry finality. However, in reality, it rips at the soul of each one of us even 18 years later. 3-11 to us is as plain as day as 9-11 is to all who were touched by it.
I believe the #1 job of the government is to protect and serve the people. Preventing another 9-11 or Pearl Harbor from hitting U.S. soil is a top priority. Every government should have as its main foundation providing protection to the people. Just as a Father to a family has the same role to his spouse and children. I state that so as not to create confusion to the roles of leaders. Justice is a monumental task to manage and a difficult one to keep within balance. Please do not miss the point; the strength of a protective government is extremely important. Inside our hearts, I believe, is a different story…
In the tragedy surrounding my sisters, my brothers, my Father, and I were all on the same page, he needed to pay for his crime to the fullest. My Mother provided a different balance that even years later I still struggle with, but it is so important to grasp; within days, not months, not years, DAYS,
Mom said words I never expected to hear, “I forgive him. I cannot carry a grudge, I cannot carry bitterness, and I cannot carry anger around with me. I am just not that way. And you cannot either; it will tear your heart to pieces. It is God’s job to judge, not ours.”
I have argued with my doubting self on this topic since that fateful day on 3-11-2001. As I see bullies surround us in not only homes and schools, but in businesses, government, social media and even churches, I notice one common factor – bullies carry anger. Because they have eaten more pain and seldom taste true forgiveness, they spew back out their bitterness, anger, and hate on everyone else.
I argue that my sister was a fool. She cared for this bully as if he was one of the many cats she had loved and cared for that were defenseless. Her heart and willingness to forgive the unforgivable cost her life. He was by no means defenseless and needed not – protection. However, he did need something much more, an understanding of forgiveness. It is not for the sake of other people alone, but for that inner being, that has heart disease. If you read the magazine article it notes the cause of death was from heart disease – in essence, he hated himself to death.
Just as the terrorists who flew a plane into a building on 9-11 were misguided religious fanatics with no true understanding of love, they too hated themselves to death. The tragedy that our family suffered through on 3-11 day was also from a person who ultimately hated himself to death. People who carry un-forgiveness and deep inner bitterness become bullies.
Sadly, we live in a world filled with people who bring terror upon the world, but their biggest problem is that which is within them. Eighteen years later after being victimized by such a person on 3-11 Day, I realize I could very easily have turned into a bully myself. It is what we start and allow to infiltrate our hearts that creates a bully. Lesson learned; do not allow our hearts to start owning hate that is how we bring An End to Bullying.
I know years ago had a read this; I would cease the reading, the turn the other cheek garbage does not work. I hope you do not go away, but I understand if you do. But if you dare, let’s take a few steps deeper…
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Jesus made a statement, as He was being beaten and led to being killed at the hands of religious bullies, ‘do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children.’ I imagine the weeping was like I heard from my own Mother on 3-11 day as she mourned over her daughter. Jesus was speaking to His Mother and the many that had come to know of His care and love for them. I have never understood exactly what was meant by that statement, I assume He was saying for them to not worry about Him, He had it all covered.
He knew what was about to happen and it had a greater cause than anyone could understand. It was communicated by the same person who thought Jesus came to bring on a war and execute justice on earth, (that is what we all want right?)
Peter states in 1Peter 3:18 ‘Christ himself suffered when he died for you, and with that one death he paid for your sins. He was not guilty, but he died for people who are guilty. He did this to bring all of you to God. In his physical form, he was killed, but he was made alive by the Spirit.’
However, after the events of 3-11, my thinking has changed; I think perhaps He was telling them to worry and weep about their children and their hearts. He was making a last statement to remember the sermon on the mount and that stuff about turning the other cheek. He was saying; raise them in a way that they understand the nature of people that they grasp that the bullies of the world will eventually have justice brought upon them. Otherwise, your kids will turn out to either become bullies or feel like victims the rest of their lives. Weep, and in a positive way worry, so it drives you to teach them what is important.
March 10th, 2017 marked the last day for this Average Joe in the business world. I look back with pride at the times I stood my ground against bullies and did not take their garbage. At least, I held my internal ground while being politically correct and staying professional with people who treated others like they were inferior beings. But I also carry regrets for the times I carried bitterness and fear of being messed over by people where it caused me to lash out or back at people. Dueling doubt prevails at times. I have seen bullies cause deep harm to my kids and 3-11 low-lighted what our family went through. To me, it is more than irony it occurred in the same year as 9-11.
In the pursuit of peace, I have come to learn that it matters not what other people do to us that makes up our being. They will at times try to cause us deep worry and anxiety. In the worst of cases, they will inflict physical pain and more often the pain that inflicts our minds. However, the wall of inner protection is one we can control and we cannot allow to be penetrated.
If anything good could come from my sisters death it would be the lessons learned from my Mother who somehow could see through her pain, that in hate she would have zero to gain. Instead she communicated words similar to Jesus hanging on the cross, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’
It has motivated me for years to fight through what others say and do, as they too do not understand. My goal is to spend the rest of my life writing to help guide those like myself, an Average Joe, to have peace in a non-peaceful world. I plan to continue to talk about how to help grasp the best thoughts when the dueling doubts banter in our minds and discard the rotten ones. I hope it can be we who will work together to learn to fight the fears, worries, and anxieties that no one wants to admit halt our ability to be the people that we were made to be, awesome ones!
We will first prevent ourselves from being hate carrying people who die of hate disease. We will, one person at a time, starting with ourselves, bring an End to Bullying! May my sisters story, my Mom’s forgiveness, and this keyboard lead you to understanding too.