I was pleased to read the editorial by Sean Scully in the Register on May 14. It is refreshing to see a media personality write a very objective article on a couple of highly emotionally charged issues – the Civil War, and the local mascot issues - and take a sincere look at both sides of the issues (" painful debate").

It seems that few of today’s commentators are interested in presenting both sides of a story. Even worse if you don’t agree with them they resort to name calling.

I refuse to be intimidated by name callers, but I am sensitive to it and recognize it for what it is – bullying.

While in high school, I was the object of considerable bullying, due mainly to my being very small in stature. To further complicate the matter, because of the remote location of our homestead ranch I had to move into the city and board out. I was very out of place and in a bad state of culture shock, having never lived in a town or a city. I was labeled a hick from the sticks and other unsavory names that I will not repeat.

The worst experiences were in gym class. The bigger boys regularly bullied the little guys. Whatever came my way, I tried to take it in stride, and I managed to not hate the other boys.

But a truth is this -- I hated the teachers who turned a blind eye to what was going on. However, because of my pre-high-school background as a cowboy I was able to handle them differently than the other little guys.

Dad taught me very young not to show fear to the big animals. He didn’t say 'don’t have fear, just don’t show it.' I learned to bluff full-grown cows, which usually, but not always worked in my favor. When it didn’t work, I learned to fight for my life.

So in high school, I was plenty scared, but I used my cowboy training on the bullies, and often bluffed my way out of situations. I knew how to make threats that sounded real, even though they were not.

Once, I got trapped into a situation with some bullies that would have been horribly humiliating. I would have rather died that allow them to do what they were going to do. This time, I went into my training from when I ran into the occasional cow that wouldn’t be bluffed: I went ballistic.

Three guys had me on the gym floor and had me disrobed. I was kicking and thrashing with all my might. I was stronger than I looked, and I finally kicked one leg free and, in the process, kicked one of the guys right in the face -- really hard. He wasn’t injured, but was in pain and ran off yowling.

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The other two dropped me and took off, too. I was fortunate to have already had an education from OCSH (Old Cowboy School of Hard-knocks). The other little guys were not nearly so fortunate.

After that last incident, I wasn’t bullied much except for occasional name calling and taunting. In fact, out of that experience, I gained some special friends among the other little guys who were being bullied, who then wanted to hang out with me. I guess they saw me as a protector of the bullied. I took some courage from that and did become a protector of the bullied.

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In my story, you’ll note that I mentioned that the bullies called me names, and taunted me. Is this really any different than all the name-calling that goes on in the arena of politics? I think not.

In my opinion, anyone in politics who resorts to name calling is showing symptoms of a weak-mind-trying-to-express-itself-forcefully syndrome. Or maybe that person just simply has no valid position to express.

Whatever the case, name calling generates contention and hate. Logic and reason generate empathy and understanding. I think we need a lot less of “I am right, you are wrong” and a lot more of “let's agree to disagree” and find middle ground where we can compromise.

We the public, and our political and media leaders all need to step back and look at ourselves. We talk against the bullying of youth that goes on in schools and social media. But are we setting the right example?

My clarion call is for all adults to lead out -- set the example for our youth. Cease the name calling. And for all praying people to pray for peaceful resolution to our issues, and for the preservation of liberty in America.

Jon Garate

Deer Park

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