Hate is a really strong word. I try hard to teach my children that there are many ways to dislike, disagree and not get on with someone or something but when you hate that’s a whole new ballgame of feeling. The boys will say ‘I hate this rice/book/not being able to play minecraft all the time etc. etc. and I try to get them to see the bigger picture, that life is so much more than the thing they don’t like at that moment. I absolutely don’t like them using hate to describe each other and I always stop that. I ask them ‘do you really hate your brother?’ or are you just angry and upset with them at the moment. Always this question makes them think and they always change ‘hate’ to ‘don’t like’ and even though that can be shouted I’m happier.
But there are some people I actually do hate and I’m ashamed to say it that I don’t think I’ll ever stop hating them.
I have been following the story of Stephen Sutton and his journey with living with and accepting his diagnosis of terminal cancer. I have followed the amazing feat of being so desperately ill with bowel cancer yet still wanting to raise money for a charity that has supported and helped him through the progression of his illness. Checking the total this morning he has raised over £3 million for the charity Teenage Cancer Trust who are so grateful that they can offer so much more than they had planned before Stephen’s efforts.
As a society we saw the best in people as many used social media sites to share his story and encourage people to donate what they could. Stephen had set himself a goal and starting with the help of the comedian Jason Manford this goal was broken and exceeded way past anyone’s expectations. Through this we saw the good in people and that they wanted to help and show their support. I wanted to too as reading his story and taking that extra deep sympathetic breath when I read his age -19- and being utterly amazed at how accepting he was of his terminal status as, in his position, I’m not sure I could be so accepting.
Stephen taught us to grab every last second of life. He taught us to live each and every moment that we have with loved ones and to experience all you can whilst you still can. His last update on 10th May (just 4 days before his death this morning) was still amazingly and remarkably cheerful despite what he knew to be is decline. Saying goodbye online to people you’ve never met must be so difficult but those who look at you through your tubes and machines that help to keep you alive is quite another matter.
So when I read online to find out that there are people who left comments on his Twitter feed after he came out of hospital after making a very miraculous, but not long lasting as it turned out, ‘recovery’ saying that they felt duped because he hadn’t died I was shocked, disgusted and ashamed for those people. How could anyone do this using their (I would think I don’t have ultimate proof) name and photo? What do their friends think of them? What do their families for that matter…
Stephen or those close to Stephen finally deleted his Twitter account and I can absolutely understand why. This young man was dealing with his death and yet reading about how some people were disappointed that he was still alive, how can any person deal with that situation? How can they not be upset?
Internet trolls are disgusting human beings who seek to cause pain and suffering by leaving comments and posts deliberately designed to hurt. I should try to understand that they may be unhappy, may have had a tough childhood or make excuses for their behaviour and find some ounce of pity for them. I want to do this really I do so I can find some reason as to why anyone would want to this but hearing about Stephen’s situation has made me change my thinking. We are all aware of trolls and what they do. We know they upset and want to and we hear of suicides and bullying and we’ve all read articles and seen interviews with children, adults and celebrities yet it still happens. People are still posting vile comments and laughing at the responses. For this there is no excuse and I won’t try to make any anymore. I won’t offer any understanding or excuses I will just hate them for the disgusting human being they are.
So the next time I hear one of my sons declare their hatred for their brother/s I will still talk to them about how we shouldn’t hate people as it’s a really strong word. I’ll talk to them about other words we can use to describe our anger and frustration at what their brother has done and, hopefully, they will start to use these words instead of the ‘h’ word the next time they get annoyed as I know there will always be a next time. I’ll tell them of the sign that I made to go above my classroom door when I was teaching that said ‘words are powerful, be careful how you use them’ and I’ll remind them that they have such power in the words they use that they can really hurt someone without knowing it.
Trolls know that words have power but they, unlike my sons, actually enjoy the hurt and stress they cause and for that I will still feel the need to hate them. If any of my children did anything so awful as to be ‘disappointed’ that someone was still alive and post this for all the world to see I would be utterly ashamed of them and I would have to let them know. I wonder if the trolls’ parents know what they do and would they be proud if they did..?
‘I don’t see the point in measuring life in terms of time anymore. I’d rather measure life in terms of making a difference’