Born This Way

March 7, 2012

Lady Gaga never stops amazing me with the ways she can shock and entertain.  Her latest move was no less dramatic.  She and her mother have launched a new anti-bullying foundation, Born This Way. Here is their mission description:

Led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, the Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2011 to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. The Foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a braver, kinder world.

We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe, to be empowered and to make a difference in the world. Together, we will move towards acceptance, bravery and love.

I only wish there had been something like Born This Way when I was growing up.  I was no stranger to bullying in my childhood.  To be honest, it is only in learning about bullying over these past few years that I now have a name for some of the things I experienced early on.  I know others have had it worse.  But I still wonder how things might have been different if I had understood that bullying can be in the form of words (and sometimes lack of words from so called friends) just as much as bullying can be physical in nature.  These last few years seem to have produced a new wave of bullying, with cyber-bullying at the lead.   Yet I have also watched an inspiring awareness from the up and coming  generation about the need for communities to take a stand against bullies.

One of the great harms of bullying is the pressure it creates to keep your head down and try to fit in with those around you.  “Fitting in” is not the same as connecting with others in a meaningful way.  Trying to fit in can create it’s own problems.  Fitting in means smashing down all of the things that make you unique.  Time spent trying to fit in is time lost for figuring yourself out.  Time spent figuring out just who you are and what makes you different can help you create a life filled with value and a sense of well-being.  And ultimately, cultivating the parts of yourself that are unique will lead to connecting with others.

Which brings me back to the Born This Way Foundation.  To address bullying, they start by asking each of us to be brave enough to be ourselves.  But they don’t ask us to be brave on their own.  They create a community where people can be supported in their acts of courage.  And ultimately, isn’t that what most of us are looking for?  A community where we can be ourselves and still belong.  Thanks, Lady Gaga, for creating such an inspiring and empowering community!

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