The Day I Learned About Cruelty and Intolerance

Source of photo: Vecteezy

I recall clearly that it was a beautiful sunny day: the kind of day that happens on that first day in the spring where everyone goes outside without a coat for the first time and the air smells fresh and new and full of possibility.

I was in grade three, walking hand-in-hand with another little girl, through the school playground. I clearly recall how wonderful it felt, to have a friend who didn’t mind showing the entire world that she liked me enough to hold my hand. I was not a particularly popular child in my early elementary years so any public demonstration of affection was a feather in my cap; a sign that I was popular too (sad, that even at age 8, I already understood the concept of ‘popular’).

“LIZZIES!!! Look at the two lizzies!” shouted an older kid, pointing at us and laughing loudly. At the time, I was sure that every single kid on the playground turned to look.

I had no idea what the word meant but somehow, I immediately understood that we were being taunted for holding hands: that holding hands made us bad and… dirty, somehow. We immediately released our friendly grip and we both took a sideways step away from one another. While I do not recall who was holding my hand that day, I do know that we never hung around with one another again.

A burgeoning friendship, neatly nipped in the bud.

For some reason, my memory of that day includes a group of us, still in the school playground, staring at a dead cat in one of the garbage cans. The cat had a long rope tied like a noose around its neck and it was stiff, eyes open and very much dead. Logic tells me that it cannot have happened on the same day as the hand-holding incident because when I saw the cat, it was the day after Halloween; bitter cold and snowless.

But the two events have always been inextricably linked in my mind. Because both events taught me that not all people are nice. That some people can be hard and cruel. That some people have hate and intolerance residing in the place where love was supposed to have been planted.

Luckily, the intolerance I witnessed didn’t have its desired effect. I have never accepted animal cruelty and I have always endeavoured to be open to and accepting of all people, no matter their race, their religion or their sexual orientation.

Sometimes hateful comments and actions can have positive and unintended consequences.

Patti Moore Wilson/ ©


Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

25 thoughts on “The Day I Learned About Cruelty and Intolerance”

  1. Well written Patti. Could easily imagine myself on that playground. Heartbreaking. I’ve always found it amazing how memories like playground taunts happen in seconds, but can stay with us for the rest of our lives. And like you, the intolerance that I’ve seen in my life has stayed with me and had the reverse effect, making me much sympathetic to others unlike myself and concerned about fairness and justice then I might have been. Great to you for seeing the intolerance as what it was — even at such a young age. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I learned how to be a pacifist from having an abusive and violent sperm donor. If he could see me now he would wonder that I did not turn into an abuser like him. He hated the world. For all its present problems and hatreds, I love this world. It needs a lot of things to change, but it is up to us to change them.
    As for cruel children, in 99% of cases that cruelty is learned from parents, and other authority figures. I very much doubt the bigger children knew what they were calling you. They were given a description by their parents, and a label to put on it. Chances are as they grew up they despised their actions. But other chances are they enjoyed seeing your misery, and are have taught their children and grrandchildren to be as them and their parents. I am not saying forgive them, we probably have no idea who they are today. It seems you have forgiven yourself for reacting as you did, and possibly losing a BFF. You did not know any better at that age.
    The future of that cat killer we will probably never know either. Chances are they are rotting in jail right now, or worse. I hate to see anyone rott8ng 8n jail, but if it keeps others from harm, maybe it is a necessity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know a few people who were bullies when they were children, and who grew up regretting what they did. One even went back to apologize. And one wishes she could 😕 They all came from dysfunctional backgrounds and they all had so much working against them, at the time. I still shudder over the cat but have made my peace with the rest. I’m mostly just grateful for the lesson. And I’m so sorry your own lesson of becoming a pacifist was such hard one…


      1. At the time it was horrible. But I learned to be able to love almost anyone, or at least to like something about them. However there are still some I have no desire to meet — like any Conservative or Republican politician.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a beautiful share it shows how long these kinds of memories stick with us. I have wondered how horridly children must be teased now with social media and am curious him many middle and high school children commit suicide or have started habits like anorexia and cutting. Thank you for sharing this and I pray it reaches those who are likewise teased and provide some comfort. Have a blessed Sabbath, sending lots of love, Joni 🦋🌺

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hurtful experiences at a tender or formative age stays with us for many years. Each of the remembered experiences left us with a choice. We either abhorred it and vowed we would not be like that or .. Much of our choice comes from our own upbringing. I think hurtful experiences help us develop a sense of empathy.

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  5. It’s remarkable how playground taunts can stick with you to adulthood. Names that you have been called or have heard. Kids can be so cruel. It’s the collective responsibility of all of us to teach more kindness it is really sad when kids face unimaginable cruelty from their own parents. We CAN do better. 💕🖇️🫂

    Liked by 1 person

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