“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”
--John F. Kennedy
In my youth, being different was not something you had to be ashamed of. Quite the contrary, being different was almost a badge of honor. It was a simpler time. Where I came from anyone who ever had a rare talent, whether it was in the arts or in science or math was almost revered in school. It is probably a good thing I was born when I was. As a youth I was given to fits of melancholy and had I been growing up today, I may not have made it through high school. I’m not sure when it happened in the youth culture, or maybe it has always been so but today there seems to be a premium put on conformity and hegemony. Anyone who strays from the pack so to speak is ridiculed, ostracized, and yes even bullied. Kids always try to “fit in” so to speak but there was a time when almost anyone could find a clique to “fit in” to. Not so much anymore.
Bullying has become a national and dare I say it an international problem. Kids, especially in middle school and high school years have tremendous pressure these days to conform to whatever standard is set by their peers. Perhaps it is a phenomenon attributed to the rise of social media but I suspect it is more a product of childhood insecurity about “being different” that is to blame. I was looking at recent statistics about bullying and I was shocked at the numbers. Almost every month in the US, over a quarter million kids are attacked, 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of bullying, 10% of the dropout rate is attributed to bullying and sadly, almost a half a million kids either talk about or attempt suicide each year because they were bullied in school.
Ivan L. Wilzig better known as the recording artist Sir Ivan is taking a stand against bullies. Sir Ivan has had several charted songs in the Billboard Club Play Charts and has always been a believer in individuality and inclusion instead of exclusion. Sir Ivan has released a new single called “Kiss All The Bullies Goodbye” and has no less than ten distinct mixes of the song that will appeal to just about any musical taste. Sir Ivan believes that bullying must stop and we should celebrate our differences rather than punish them. Sir Ivan, through his philanthropic Peaceman Foundation has made major donations to anti-bullying organizations such as The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) youth. He is also putting his money where his mouth is by donating $100,000 to 10 non-profit organizations that have strong anti-bullying programs, and is giving away the net proceeds from the song “Kiss All the Bullies Goodbye” to these organizations. In this “me” oriented society we live in, it is heartening to see an artist willing to take a stand against an epidemic problem and contribute his time, effort, and yes, money to a cause in which he believes. Look for the song, buy the song, and let’s help Sir Ivan educate and eradicate bullying once and for all.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.