August 16, 2010

My Brother- A Lesson in Simple Physics

(originally run here)

Many years ago in a galaxy far far away called high school there were numerous groups of people. In everyday parlance we refer to them as cliques. If memory serves in The Outsiders they were referred to as the greasers and socs (pronounced soshes).

At our school there were several different groups but we didn't use any of the aforementioned names. In fact the names that we used don't really matter.What does matter is that there were people there who thought that bullying was an appropriate behavior. It is a sad reality of not just school, but life. Bullying is something that some people just don't grow out of.


My brother and I were pretty lucky as we didn't have too many issues with other kids. That doesn't mean that people didn't try and pick on us. They did, but it usually didn't work out well for them. As my grandmother used to say we come from a long line of stubborn that you really don't want to be on the wrong side of.

Still, things happened. It wasn't like we walked around with signs broadcasting our nature.

During my brother's junior year of high school he began dating a girl who was new to the school. We good naturedly referred to her as the "Yeshiva Refugee." Up until that year she had attended some all girls religious school but for some reason she had left it and enrolled in our school.

I certainly was surprised by this as were our parents. It wasn't something that any of us were upset about, but since she came from a more religious home it surprised us. Apparently it surprised some of the boys from the old neighborhood too.

During an after school visit with my brother they made it clear that they didn't approve of it. They told him to end it and made all sorts of threats. It is more than 20 years since this took place and I still don't know exactly what happened. What I know is that there were a few of them and just my brother but I can offer some educated guesses as to what happened next.

My brother would have told them in very colorful terms to try and engage in some anatomically impossible activity and then he would have tried to help them engage in some unusual chiropractic efforts. He probably gave as good as he got, but he was just one person and they were many.

As the big brother I admit to still being a little upset about this. My job has always been to help to protect all of my younger siblings. If I had been there I might have been able to have helped him out. I have always felt badly about this.

In any case, this was the first of a number of nasty incidents that progressively got meaner. But it also led to my teaching my brother a simple lesson in physics.

It goes a little bit like this. Anytime you apply pressure you must always remember that eventually it must find a release. And you must also remember that even though you think that you have control of where the energy will be expended it could easily be sent a different direction.

It took a moment for my brother to understand where I was going with this. Our nature is simple. If you attack us you can expect that we will come after you with both barrels blazing. In those days that usually meant that we would make like Bruce Lee and send out Fists of Fury.
However in these circumstances that really wasn't working the way that we wanted it to so we opted for the next option.

We found out where the boys went to school and we contacted the headmaster and the rav (rabbi) at their parent's shul. In the frum world it is amazing just how fast pressure can be applied.

Simple physics allowed us to redirect the pressure. Just when they thought that they had my brother by the short hairs we showed them otherwise.

Some people think that intimidation is an effective tool for generating change. The question is do they really have as much leverage as they think that they do. It can be a very painful experience to find out otherwise.

I have to run now. I need to call the man and see what he remembers about all this.

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