The Island Of Misfit Toys
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
On Sunday, a friend and colleague, not to mention someone I consider a great mentor, Pastor Brian, posted his Sunday sermon to his WordPress site. It was entitled “Being A Misfit…..” (1). And while he was referring to the all too prevalent thought that Christians have always been misfits, especially those who seek to share His message in an alternative setting (such as the way I, and others like me, do), as soon as I read the title, my mind was instantly transported back to a time of my own childhood, and a Christmas TV special about a reindeer with a shiny nose. Rudolph made his television debut on NBC in 1964, which became a popular hit then, and which is re-broadcast annually, even today, some 50 odd years later. Then, in 2001, a fourth in the series was released entitled “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys”, and it was always this episode that tugged at my heartstrings more than any other in the series, because it was the one that, even as an adult, I could empathize with the most, having spent a good portion of my own life feeling like a bit of an outcast. You see, I was the “Band Geek” in High School….a not unattractive but definitely 15 pounds heavier than what was considered normal, teenage girl who LOVED singing and playing music on the piano, clarinet and saxophone!
By all adult standards, I was probably ideal, but not by teenage standards. And while the incidence of tormenting those who are different is more widespread and definitely more tied in with the proliferation of the information highway and cellular communication which can transmit messages and photos of hate in the blink of an eye, the feelings inside and the erosion of self-esteem was every bit as hurtful back then as it is today and as it will be, when experienced by another, tomorrow. And I must wonder how it is that we have devolved into a race of people who seem to sow disrespect and intolerance at every turn, instead of respect and tolerance for all? How is it that today, this verse is as profound as it was when it was written? “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4 ESV.
Did you know that a study conducted in 1999 showed that four out of five middle school students say that they act like bullies at least once a month? (2). And despite the fact that there are not just laws and regulations in effect everywhere, from schools to our very streets, that are intended to stop this behavior, it is seldom enforced…..not really. People can and will find ANYTHING to make fun of you for, whether it be your looks, race, sex, religion, or even how wealthy (or poor, for that matter) you are. Bullying, both the perpetrators and the victims, are of both sexes, and come in all ages, shapes, sizes and socio-economic backgrounds. But what those who bully are doing is a cry for help because they can not or will not deal with and fix their own issues. And rather than working to solve their own problems, they hope to make themselves feel better by causing others to feel alone, isolated, miserable, scared, sad, small, worthless, unloved and stupid!
Now in this movie, Rudolph chose to help all of the toys who were relegated to isolation on “the Island of Misfit Toys” by recognizing the worth and value of every one, thereby guaranteeing a place for them with a child who would love them, just the way they were. Just as Rudolph made it his responsibility to act, so must we become proactive in our communities by doing the same thing for all of the misfits out there. Let’s understand some of the things that make people bully in the first place such as the following (3):
- It makes them feel better that they have power over others.
- They get bullied by others.
- They are stressed out and they don’t know any other way to let out their anger.
- They are exposed to violence.
- They don’t feel good about themselves.
- They aren’t used to compromising and/or sharing.
So what can we do? The next time you see a child or an adult being victimized by a bully, don’t let the abuse continue. If you feel you can not directly intervene, make it your personal responsibility to notify the proper authorities. Stop it cold. Then followup to make sure that there were consequences for the perpetrator, and help for the victim either through counselling or a referral to a church or social agency who can provide services, if any are needed. Your actions to stop bullying will help victimized people have hope again and will pave the way for yet others still, to stop letting senseless bullying harm the lives of their friends and neighbors. Make a difference. What you can do, does matter and can change the life of someone….perhaps even someone you know intimately well. It might be a son or daughter, brother or sister or a neighbor, but know that for that one person, you changed their world! “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 KJV.
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:40 ESV
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