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“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”~Martin Luther King

What I love about Charlie is the same thing I love about all the custodians I know. He is unpresumptuous and kind . He is a creature of habit who finds comfort in his rituals, a sweet rhythm from a past that contains his sanity. He finds simple joy in small things. He does all of the above without inflicting intentional pain on another soul. 

Charlie is the mellow sort who doesn’t seem so easily agitated… maybe due to the cocktail of anitpsychotic medications known to treat anxiety spectrum disorders. I suspect he would still be the mellow sort without the meds. He is naturally humorous in spite of them.

While the females in Charlie’s life lean more toward a holistic approach to his well-being, his closest male family/friends do not. They believe that as long as he is cinched up nice and tight in an emotional straightjacket, all is well. It is easy for them to put their trust in pills, never mind that research showed 2 of his 3 meds caused shrinkage of brain tissue in both gray and white matter when tested on macaque monkeys. (I only know this because I like Charlie. I wanted to know about those pills).

All isn’t well with Charlie, though. His true calling has nothing to do with the 7 to 3 gig cleaning up after others. After a lifetime of turning the other cheek, Charlie decides to tackle injustice. He becomes a costumed vigilante.

Remaining true to his introspective nature, Charlie puts great thought into his costume— part super-hero with red Converse shoes to honor his source of inspiration, topped with a mask intended to invoke fear. The mask also serves to conceal a vulnerability often seen in the countenance of the kind-hearted.

Charlie isn’t the only costumed character in the story. The societal myth that schoolyard bullies grow up and go to jail is dispelled. We see that the majority of them actually put on their costume each morning and head to their chosen career where they not only continue to bully, but receive a paycheck for doing so. Their masks aren’t inspired by Halloween slasher movies. They are the malicious people who masquerade as decent folk.

Charlie’s calling is one reserved only for those with the highest levels of altruistic moral reasoning…but I also believe that Charlie’s calling has a great deal to do with what he isn’t.

Bystander:  a person who is present during an event or situation.

They instigate, encourage, and sometimes join in. Secondary bullies, if you will—the wannabes, clones, and drones who suffer the social cancer of peer dependency. Having no sense of individuality, they enjoy the power reflected when they become instruments of the primary bully. They lack the emotional intelligence and behavioral maturity to stand alone. They are easily manipulated and when faced with conflict, want to be on what they perceive to be the winning side.

…Or maybe they don’t join in. It only takes one malicious person to poison an environment. Good people become disempowered and disenfranchised. Most bystanders are actually those who watch and do nothing. They are the silent majority who help facilitate bullying of all kinds. Their passive acceptance provides the audience that every bully craves. They suffer a self-inflicted immobilization due to their own lack of courage to intervene. They bury their heads in the sand–a comfort zone for cowards who fear becoming a “target.”

Bystanders hold great power. Their action or inaction will determine if bullying continues or ends. Research shows that when just one person has the testicular fortitude to tell the bully to stop, bullying decreases by about 75 %.

Bystanders are a huge part of the reason we have words like genocide and bullycide. Passive bystanders played a bigger role in the Holocaust than their rescuer counterparts.

Director Adam Hampton wrote a story that is sweet, often funny, and all too true.  He holds a mirror to American society and gives us a true reflection of a culture where bullying is not only an epidemic, but a socially acceptable one.

“The truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”~Winston Churchill

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