I never knew Hannah Baker. Of course, none of us knew her since she is a fictional character in Jay Asher’s best-selling book and the extraordinary Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why.
But, comments by experts in the field of teen suicide picking apart the show for things that were not well done or could have been done better misses the point. The power of the series is how it hits each of us in the face with our personal responsibility for the well-being, or lack of it, of our fellow human beings.
Since each of the main characters in the show asks what part they played in Hannah’s decision, I think it’s eye opening and mind opening for each of us to look at the part that we play in the lives of those around us.
I’m not looking to make anyone wrong for our behavior. We all have beliefs and fears that get in the way of being fully supportive and loving toward others and ourselves, especially relating to sex. In fact, it’s impossible to grow up and remain uninfected by the sexually prejudiced and non-heart-centered ideas that permeate our lives.
So, here are just some of the questions that I’m asking myself.
When have I directly participated in shaming/demeaning others with saying or doing unkind things like joking about another’s looks or behavior, or sharing such things with others?
How have I indirectly participated in shaming/demeaning others by, for example, watching pornographic films that depict using other people for one’s sexual satisfaction?
How am I confronting and working toward resolving my own sexual behaviors that use another person for my satisfaction and in that process only want to get love rather than give love?
When have I not stood up to bullies when I saw sexual shaming going on by either directly stopping the bullying or reporting it to the proper authorities?
When have I not supported a person being bullied by neglecting to give them the comfort and assurance that there was nothing wrong with them and that they did not deserve to be treated that way?
When have I looked away and not seen the alienation, insecurity, neediness, calls for help or what’s really going on in my own children?
When have I not made it safe for others to be honest with me about their sexual feelings and experiences by judging, shaming, lecturing, telling them how they “should” be, or how I would have handled the situation, rather than just compassionately listening to them?
Am I confronting and working toward resolving any prejudices that I hold toward those whose sexuality is different from mine e.g., homosexual, transsexual, bisexual?
The first 12 episodes of 13 Reasons Why are a penetrating look at the behavior and consequences that accompany heartless behavior and the consequences of those actions. Although there are some instances of heartfelt behavior, it is not until episode 13 that we see people wanting to feel and know about their deep feelings, asking for help, and taking responsibility for their actions.
Clay says, “Some of you cared but none of you cared enough. You let her walk away. We all let her walk away. We have to do better in how we treat each other, in the way we look out for each other. It has to get better somehow.”
We don’t have to wait until there is a crisis to wake up, come out of denial and begin caring better about each other and ourselves. That process can start now.
For Your Journey
- Watch 13 Reasons Why and the added feature 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons.
- Write about how each of the above questions relates to you,
- Share-it-forward. By discussing the issues that are raised with family and friends you’ll be like the butterfly flapping its wings and causing the much-needed hurricane of honesty and support in all areas of our lives.
First in the Series: Live Joyfully: Get Out of Your Head
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
Photos Courtesy of Netflix. Reprinted with Permission.