Whatever happened to common sense?

I know that as we mature as a population certain behaviors become outdated, less civil or just wrong. Here in the US we found taxation without representation to be deplorable. Then capital punishment needed to change. It was just wrong to hang someone or just chop their head off. No, we should electrocute them. But that wasn’t right either. Now we will chemically put them to sleep.Then stop their heart. Yeah that’s better.

But this editorial isn’t on ancient civil practices or contemporary capital punishment procedures. I want to talk about bullying. We all have experienced it directly or vicariously through others we know. It is not good, right or ever really in style. But it is natural. Call it “natural selection on the social scale” when someone stronger imposes on a weaker person.

In nature social struggles such as these have a permanent stock. Pack animals use bullying to maintain order. Not that I would say that any of our children are like a pack of wolves or a pride of lions. But, I do see the similarity. Cliques, groups, social circles – they are all packs or prides of children. So the intellectual minds of today see this as well. We go to extreme measures to remove the wildness that our children still exhibit. We have well meaning psychologist and psychiatrists develop a strategy to train this behavior right out of us. We tell our children that if someone talks to you “mean” then they are bullying you. That might be true. Heck, it probably is. We don’t stop here though. Nope. We go further. I think that we go too far. We tell our children that they are victims and they cannot handle this themselves. They should go to an authority figure to help them out. Maybe.

My father and grandfather taught us when we were young to stand up for yourself. They supported us when we had conflict with other children. Sometimes watching from afar. But always watching. They taught us as children that we are different from everyone. So are the other children. We are all different. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. But like any muscle that needs stress to build it up so does our inner strength. It takes bullies and challenges, that will sometimes be more than we can handle at first, to build up that inner strength that some people call confidence. When I was small we learned a little prose that was created to help build this inner strength. You know it. Most people do.

“Sticks and stones can break my bones. But words cannot hurt me.”

I recently was told by my wife that one of my children said that the statement was false. I stood shocked at first. I know that people can use words to create pain for people. But the phrase was not meant for that at all. It was meant to help children cope with threats of physical attack. Or that pestering bully that wants to tell you that your pants were too short. Like you didn’t know that already. This isn’t false. It is true. The only time words hurt you – they only time – is when you let them. Emotion can be evoked by events that are surrounding you. That is a sure thing. But you can learn to control these emotions. Being sad because someone points out that you are almost six feet tall but weigh less than even some of the skinniest girls in school – is a choice. I learned it early on. Sometimes you stand out in the crowd. And when that happens, you have to learn to deal with it. Being smart was OK when I grew up in school. But you couldn’t be too smart. Nope you were a nerd, geek or something like that. Standing out again. More names to be called. The odd thing to me is that as a society we haven’t quite gotten that yet. “Got what” you say? Bullies are going to point out the obvious. They are not going to tell you something that you don’t already know. I knew my pants were too short. I didn’t have any others to wear. And just like me, any child that is getting bullied was already sad, disappointed, angry, embarrassed about that WAY before the bully pointed it out. Is it right that they brought your inner feelings like that out into public? No. Not at all. But that bully can only be as effective as you let them be.

Because I am certain that all children are aware of what bullying is, I propose a new/old strategy here. Teach our children to learn how to handle it. Teach them how humor or selective hearing can sidetrack the comment. I used these as a child and still do with great success. Support your child by showing them their inner and outer strengths. Show them that helping out that child, who doesn’t have it figured out yet, can help them even more.

I had classmates that called me names. But if I let them hurt me by saying those names, then I lose. I will not let them hurt me. Names are just words. Their words cannot hurt me.


When I took the Creative Writing Course, that Ann Linquist leads, I was introduced to this new-to-me method of freeing up the brain lock that can occur with writing or really any creative process. The word itself is a nonsense word made up by Lewis Carroll. It means to move around clumsily or heavily. But in this class, it was used to take seemingly unrelated words or phrases and create a poem or some kind of prose with each included. Below is what I wrote for my first stab at the process:

  • Garbage Can
  • Scorpion
  • Thunderstorm

There once was a large garbage can. A really large garbage can. It was so large that it had its own atmosphere. One day while plundering around in this garbage can universe, a less than curious creature found something. He wasn’t sure what it was. He didn’t really care all that much. He was looking for his breakfast. The thing he did find was in a ball. The ball rattled and hummed when he moved it. At first the scorpion was startled by the noise and vibration. Since it didn’t look like it would be very good for breakfast he tossed it aside. When it crashed into the filth beside him it made even more noise and lit up briefly. The flash of white light ran across the face of the ball. Turning to the light the scorpion thought that it might actually be a nice toy for his pleasure later. Since he was a scorpion he had no pockets. So he had to carry the ball on his back. But the ball didn’t want to stay. It would roll to the side with a clamor and glow. Frustrated with the ball he decided that he would just use his stinger to hold it into place. With precision he impaled the ball with his stinger. The ball reacted with a loud clap and white-hot light. The ball was vibrating on the end of his tail. He was getting annoyed with the ball. He decided that it was quite noisy and he no longer wanted the ball. He tried to pry the ball from his stinger, but it did not budge. The rumbling and flashing seemed to only grow more intense. In his frustration to rid himself of the ball he flung his tail this way and that, banging the ball against whatever was around him. With one last burst of energy he launched the ball into the air. It zoomed to the top of his garbage can universe and cracked open. The inside of the ball expanded and boomed with streaks of light. Thanks to the annoyed scorpion the thunderstorm was born in the garbage can.

I had fun with this one. I really like this exercise. It “gets my motor running” in a literary sense. Ann, thanks for the introduction to the method. It is really fun.

Who or what is Walterburgle?

This is the first official blog entry for this site. So, I suppose that it should explain the name or, at least, poke fun at it. I have used the Walterburgle or Whalterburgle alias a few times when signed up for online do-wha-ditties. The most recent was a Create Writing Workshop lead by Ann Linquist. You can find her blog here. Nice lady. Nice course. I enjoyed the workshop. It lead me back into writing and help reassure that I might have some talent. However deeply hidden it might be…

Walterburgle seems like a name that should have some meaning. I had friend named Walter. He was a nice guy. Not a saint, mind you. But no thief. So, he would not have been linked with the name ‘burgle’ by any means. Burgle is to steal. You got that, right? I don’t think that he was stolen either. Not in any sense I could recall. Who would name themselves after an abduction of a friend anyway? Yeah, I might do that. But I didn’t. Mostly, because he wasn’t abducted (as far as I know).

It could be a misspelling of water bugle. You know,a couple of added letters because my hands shake sometimes. So, let us take a look at what a water bugle might be. Well, some really old reference to a bugleweed (Lycopus viginicus) might be what I was going for in the name. You know one of those weeds that grow by the water – said to cure TB, anxiety, prevent pregnancy, and change the color of your skin. I should package that right up and sell it. But as badly as I type, that wasn’t it either. I really only found out about water bugles about a minute ago.

Maybe it was a clairvoyant moment that I knew I would have a blog with that name. So, I created the alias. But I wouldn’t have needed the blog without the name. Or even the name without the blog. I mean, I already have a name. My momma gave it to me. (My dad had a little to say about it, too.) But being that I have the blog now and the name before, creates a bit of a paradox. You know that infinite loop of reality that really messes with time travel. It clearly screws with the reasoning for this name as well. So that couldn’t be it. If so, I might just vaporize into some bits and pieces due to the perturbative nature of the paradox and all. Eik. Well, I just looked into the mirror. I am still in a corporeal state. You know solid and what-not. OK – Not it.

I don’t think there is any real reason for the name. Although, if you say it really fast it sounds cool. If you say it really slowly and raise an eyebrow, it is a little seductive. Well, not when I do it. But when a really pretty lady raises her eyebrow and says “Walterburgle,” that’s hot. Although pretty ladies saying anything can be hot.

Well, this is my almost exhaustive research on the name Walterburgle. And in conclusion, I have determined that I am not bursting into pieces due to some clairvoyance, have an abducted friend named Walter, or really know much about water bugles. So, it must be just a random sequence of neuron synapses that generated the really cool (and sexy) name Walterburgle. Who knew I could be so lucky.