I don’t know the actual meaning of maturity. But for me, maturity is when somebody tries to hurt you and instead of trying to hurt them back, you try to understand their problem.
It really was not until the Illusion Factory made a project called Bully 911 that I was exposed to the mindset of the bully.
Like any poorly written feature film, bullies in my mind were always mindless antagonists coming to hurt me as a kid.
But, the best written antagonists in a film are the ones that are three dimensional characters so that you understand the psyche of the villain. Witness Academy Award-winning Christoph Waltz in Quentin Tarantino’s film, Inglorious Bastards.
In working on Bully 911, we shot several open forums between students, teachers and principals, talking about the bully problem.
Most bullies are coming from a position of low personal self-esteem and the pain that they are feeling inside is so overwhelming that they want to bring everyone else down to their level of pain and self esteem so that they can feel normal. It’s actually very simple if you think about it.
But the opportunity to really understand the bully and to not only empathize but to thereby create a bond, if possible, and convert the bully, struck me as a much more interesting prospect. And then I read the story about Daryl Davis who actually walked the walk and talked the talk and I was so impressed I had to share this story with you.
Daryl Davis was once an aspiring and successful musician. He had played with Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Muddy Waters. However, his true claim to fame, the legacy he has forged came in a very different way.
He went out of his way to befriend KKK Grand wizard, Roger Kelly. He spent years building trust between them and laying the foundation of what became a friendship. They broke bread at each other’s tables. They welcomed each other into their homes. Davis even went as far attending Klan rallies as a guest of Kelly.
Most importantly, Davis cultivated an atmosphere of listening. He didn’t hate Kelly because Kelly hated him. Instead he listened to Roger Kelly. And eventually, Kelly started listening to him. This lead to the two realizing they had far more in common than not.
In the end, Kelly denounced his ties to the KKK. So much so, he handed his hood and robe to Daryl Davis.
In total, Davis has seen over 200 klan members walk away from the KKK and hand over their robes and hoods to Daryl. Daryl Davis is a world changer. Replacing hate with love. Because love conquers hate… every time.