Today, the story begins. If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, now would be a good time as it lays the groundwork for the next 7 days of storytelling.
I will be telling this story in its entirety over the next week and offering it as a free resource, so if you know any communicators/youth workers please share on Twitter and Facebook. Also, every couple days I will include some discussion questions. If you have any to add, please share them in the comments!
Once again Kevin found himself sitting across the desk from his school principal. “Why do you get in so many fights?” asked the principal. “Is there some reason you can’t walk away when you get angry?” Kevin had no response. He just sat low in the oversized chair and looked at the floor. The principal continued, “If you don’t have anything to say, then I don’t have any way to help you, Kevin. I’m going to have to call your parents and suspend you for the next five days.” Kevin accepted his fate, stormed out of the office, and sat outside on the curb next to the campus supervisor, waiting for his parents to pick him up.
Kevin was a skinny nine-year-old kid who carried himself like he was 18, always watched his back, and had the temper of a viper. He was the kid who either picked a fight or ended a fight by lashing out at someone if he felt that person had wronged him.
He grew up in a pretty tough neighborhood, but his family life was even tougher. Whether it was his father yelling at his mother or “disciplining” Kevin and his younger sister, Tara, there always seemed to be some kind of conflict at home. Kevin figured this was the way all families worked. Plus, he didn’t feel like he could blame his dad for his violent actions. His father has been wounded during the Vietnam War and now walked with a permanent limp. “If we could just blow up all of our enemies, this country could finally be at peace!” his dad would say while watching the evening news. Sometimes Kevin felt the same way about his “enemies” at school.
Whether Kevin was in a fight with a neighborhood bully or another kid on the school playground, his dad always supported him: “Son, the most important thing to do is to stand up for yourself. If you have to throw a punch or talk back to save face, then that’s what you’ve gotta do.” Kevin did what his father said, and he couldn’t remember a single time he’d let someone get away with making fun of him or taking cheap shots at him.
This angry kid who retaliated in most every situation only became fiercer as he grew up through middle school and high school. Every faculty member knew him by his first name, and many of them had had to help break up his fights. Most of the faculty felt bad for him. He was so angry and confused, but he wasn’t about to change his ways—and if he did, his parents would disown him. For Kevin, everything was “us” (his family, close friends, country) versus “them” (anyone outside of who he considered to be “us”).
Kevin was eighteen years old when he heard about a rumor going around the high school about his fifteen-year-old sister, Tara…
I will post Part 2 tomorrow!