Recently Americans were appalled by a video of middle school students bullying their sixty-seven year old bus monitor. For most of her ordeal Karen Klein sat quietly, sometimes sobbing, while the little hellions physically and verbally harassed her. Especially hurtful was being told she didn’t have a family … that they had all killed themselves because they didn’t want to be around her. It is unclear if the children who said this knew her son had committed suicide. Afterward during an interview when asked why she hadn’t responded more harshly, she explained she was afraid she might lose her job. Karen makes $15,000 a year.
Children mirror the culture surrounding them. If these middle school children are a reflection of our society, at first glance it looks like we’re in trouble. In a world that gives us daily reminders of just how despicable mankind can be, we could feel that humanity can’t sink much lower. But then someone performs an act of redemption by setting up an Internet fund to give Karen a well-deserved vacation. Others follow that lead, sending notes and flowers of encouragement and donating over half a million dollars. Their gifts, a relieving balm on Karen Klein’s painful wounds, stir a flutter of hope in the hearts of the rest of us…and remind us that we are also capable of great good.