“Unplugging” is certainly a timely topic today. In fact, I’ve used that term several times this past week. When I found two boys in a conflict which didn’t seem to be finding resolution, I joined them to share some very good advice my husband gave me to use. I explained that the student who was “needling” the other boy was exercising great control over his victim. He found himself energized as tears ran down the cheeks of the victim. I then told him that he was being like a leech that sucks and drains the life blood of its victim. He didn’t like the comparison.
To the victim in the situation, I explained that he had let the tormenter wire his forehead with invisible antenna through which he could control the emotions of his victim. I said it was possible to just reach up and “unplug” the wire. Once that act was completed, the tormenter was powerless to bother him as before. He could then just walk away. This incident was like many I have observed and mediated in the past…the victim walked away and was fine…once he unplugged the antenna.
I grew up in a time when these situations were handled by repeating a verse my parents gave me: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names and faces can’t hurt me.” Yes, I realize that since my childhood things are different now. Parents are very protective of their children’s emotional state of mind. However, I don’t see today’s children able to handle these situations as easily as my generation did. In fact, by protecting them from negative words, opinions, etc., we seem to have made them much weaker emotionally.
The second way I have been impacted by the term unplugged is in the practice of people to extend the life of their loved ones by hooking them to machines for the last weeks of their physical life. I’ve just returned from the funeral of my cousin’s husband. He had been such a vibrant and active man all of his life. He has been in a dementia unit with a rare form of Alzheimer’s for over a year. In a way, his death was a relief. To see him hospital-bound was hard for family. But I am proud that he was allowed to die without the mechanized life-saving measures many people insist upon with their loved ones. As my husband points out, it not only takes away the dignity of the individual, but it runs family finances into near ruin. Instead, the last moments of this life were spent with his family, and he looked up toward Heaven, reached out and smiled before he laid down his head and went home to God. He was at peace. A few years ago, my aunt had grown tired of the tubes, etc. and asked the family to sing “Amazing Grace” for her; for my brother-in-law to recite the 23rd Psalm; and then for the doctor to unplug her from the life-support machines. She died gracefully and peacefully.
At this moment, I am looking at a stack of papers that need grading. However, I am going to unplug myself from school-mode and enter Thanksgiving mode. I am going to enjoy the one thing that makes life worthwhile…my family and our relationships with one another.