Is it really OK to beat someone up because you don’t like the clothes he’s wearing?

Sometimes I wonder about this planet of ours.  I wonder just how much longer we can go on.  I mean – if people can be so heartless and cruel as to actually beat someone up just for wearing a jersey of the “other” team and then someone else can defend those actions, we’re in trouble.

For those who are not familiar with the story, Giants fan Bryan Stow was beaten to within an inch of his death simply because he chose to wear a Giants jersey to a game.  He is still in a coma now and could very well be permanently injured.  Now that is bad enough, but…

…a few days later a blogger at the Observer-Reporter in Pennsylvania said, in effect, that Stow “asked for it” by wearing the “other” team’s jersey.  WTF???

I think we all need to take a lesson from our children – they have a wisdom we adults have long since lost.  They know what’s important and what’s not.  It really is as Robert Fulghum says in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

One of the most wonderful parts of our travels has been watching our sons interact with kids of every color under the rainbow.  Skin color was nothing more than an identifying characteristic such as we would refer to the kid with blond hair.  No judgement, no condemnation, no prejudice whatsoever – just another human being among many.

Our sons learned that people are people regardless of what color their skin, what language they speak, what god they worship, what currency they spend, or how much of that currency they have.  And yes – regardless of which jersey they wear.

They’ve driven toy trucks around the dirt floor of a shack in a migrant workers’ camp in Mexico and played video games in a decadent game room filled with every toy known to mankind.  They’ve traded hats/helmets with indigenous kids in Bolivia and played soccer with an old ball made of rubber bands in Nicaragua.  And you know what?  They don’t care what kind of clothes those kids are or are not wearing.

Because it doesn’t matter.

indigenous boy in Bolivia with bicycle helmet

Daryl with indigenous hat

I had to laugh at how stumped Daryl was when we were interviewed by Good Morning America six months ago.  “It must be so fascinating to see different people and different cultures along the way.  What’s it like?”

“Ummm…” Daryl responded, not quite sure what to say.  “They’re just people.”

Why can’t we all say that?  Why can’t we all look beyond the wrapper people come in and see them for the people they are?  Why do we get so caught up with all the trivial little things that seem so big at the moment?

Why can’t we all take a lesson from our kindergarten teacher and remember that it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Daryl in Vietnam

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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11 Responses to Is it really OK to beat someone up because you don’t like the clothes he’s wearing?

  1. Melanie @TravelToast.com April 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    It’s obvious you’ve instilled *your* values into your children instead of allowing the savage and ignorant to do so.

    I am reminded of Mark Twain’s quote:

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

  2. Wilma in WV April 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Melanie, thank you for the quotation. It sums up everything Nancy said. I cannot imagine not being able to travel. If someone says, “Let’s go,” then I say, “Okay…….. where are we going?” Even trips of a few hours can be an adventure. Thanks Nancy for continuing to blog.

  3. Rain April 14, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    What a horrific story.

    The lessons you share here are the ones I most want to share with my son. May I do it half as successfully as you have with yours!

  4. Debra Speakes April 14, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    Just another example of the idiocy of sports fanaticism. Big difference between being a “fan” and being a “fanatic”.

  5. JenniNyla April 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    I completely stumbled upon this blog by accident, but I’m so glad I did. My parents are not travelers by nature, yet somehow as soon as I graduated high school I was bitten by the bug and was off… it’s how I met my husband. However, after our youngest was born we’ve lost that fire to travel… I now have the itch again… and I’m exited to explore new places and share it with my children… I’m excited to revisit places I’ve already fallen in love with and see them through their eyes. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Grand Canyon Harry April 15, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    This would be a good topic for somebody’s masters or doctorates thesis. Are we looking at a problem or just the results of some other problem? Boils down to values instilled into an individual by his/her parents, environment, etc. Sad – so VERY sad. I don’t have any solutions or further discussion of WHY.

  7. Christa April 15, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    This is a beautiful post! I’m reading Nurtureshock by Po Bronson at the moment and he begins with discussing the race piece, how from an early age, parents try to stifle kids when they mention someone’s skin color. This unfortunately backfires when they think race is a bad thing, which begins a lifelong classification of “different” or “bad.” Hearing your son say, “They’re just people.” and being oblivious to what she was actually asking was fantastic! I love the idea of roadschooling and think you’re prepping your kids for a life of adventure and curiosity!

  8. April April 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    How many times were you told that your biking adventure was sooo dangerous? I think people tend to overlook the danger in their own back yards and focus instead on imagined dangers of something/some place/some people that they’ve never even seen.

  9. nancy April 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    You are so right April! I was amazed at how many people felt what we were doing was dangerous, when the reality is that we’ve faced more danger here in Boise, Idaho than we have on the road.

  10. leith smith April 16, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    to suggest that traveling will deliver people from their natural disposition to develop cliques and clans is overly hopeful. Genghis Khan travelled. I see in my self the inclination to knock other people down so that I’m bigger and I doubt that this is specific to me.

    I am born and raised in Bolivia. I spent time on the streets of Coch, playing, fighting, getting beat at marbles. I developed over the years a highly stratified view of people, classist is the word I use, and it took several acts of God to change my heart.

    it’s not strange that clans fight, what’s strange is when they do beautiful things, and yours has done a beautiful thing, so thanks for that.

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