Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stand Strong by Nick Vujicic

Bullies like to get in your face, and none more so than in grade school, when identities are being forged. I recall a couple bullies who thought they were hot stuff and enjoyed pushing me around just because I was a shy, tall skinny kid. Now, those same "babe magnet" Adonis clones are obese and unknown, and would never attempt such a thing today for fear of losing their teeth. (Neil deGrasse Tyson said recently that high school is life's reverse pyramid: those at the top later slide to the bottom.) Nick Vujicic, in his new book STAND STRONG, says bullying is a worldwide epidemic, and that he was the perfect target for bullies because he was born without limbs. I'm not sure if that's true for high school, but certainly for younger bullies, who take pride in amplifying their parents and peer's prejudices. (It would take one sick high school sociopath to pick on a guy with no arms and legs, as being seen doing so in public wouldn't make you very "cool.") With the subtitle "You Can Overcome Bullying," this audiobook is narrated by Vujicic himself, who does an outstanding job conveying the confidence he's learned since growing up. It's an inspiration for the victims of bullying everywhere. His major point is that you, as a victim, are not to blame. Bullying is about the bully's own problems, hate, and fear. They pick on perceived inferiors because of neglect or abuse from their own father or sibling or rival, and/or because it makes them seem superior by contrast. The comparisons which all grade school kids insist on making a sport is because their very self worth is determined by pecking order. Any deviation from the "norm" is considered a flaw in immature eyes, and that flaw must be pointed out and ridiculed. (Sadly, this attitude is often carried over into adult culture.) Aimed at a younger audience, the book encourages listeners to establish strong values, and reveals how to create a safety zone around oneself while controlling one's responses. It shows how knowing and being yourself is the best defense, instead of reacting in ways that increase the bully's power. Cyber bullies are covered as well, all in a simple, down to Earth shared understanding sense. Vujicic is an evangelist and motivational speaker, leading a nonprofit organization (and book) called Life Without Limbs. He reads the book for Random House Audio.

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