Growing up in the 80s was tough, and my Italian American dad taught me to resolve conflict with my fists. I lost a couple of fights against older bullies. I also won quite a few fights with boxing lessons from Dad and lightning fast hands. I gave out a few ugly beatings. Most often I brought down bullies. On one occasion I was the bully.

 

By Louis De Lauro

 

Gen X kids played outside all day and we got dirty and thirsty.

I drank from a backyard hose dozens of times in the 70s and 80s. There were no water bottles. Parents did not allow you to bring a large group of kids with muddy shoes in the house so a hose was the best option.

I was consumed with thirst. My friends were thirsty too. The solution was a hose. Was drinking from a hose unsanitary? Yes. Was the water warm? Yes. Was my thirst quenched? Yes. Drinking from a hose was humbling.

I equate Buddhism with humility.

Gen X kids grew up in a world of bullies who were always looking for a fight.

When I was in middle school, (it was called Jr. High back then), I fought a lot. Growing up in the 80s was tough, and my Italian American dad taught me to resolve conflict with my fists. I lost a couple of fights against older bullies.

I also won quite a few fights with boxing lessons from Dad and lightning fast hands. I gave out a few ugly beatings. Most often I brought down bullies. On one occasion I was the bully.

I am not proud of fighting so often and I am definitely not proud of the times I mistreated others. But I did not have the mindset to end conflict through words or to avoid conflict through kindness.

Did I feel physical and emotional pain while fighting? Yes. Did I inflict physical and emotional pain while fighting? Yes.  Did I eventually learn to be more peaceful because of the violence I participated in? Yes.

And I equate peace with Buddhism. 

Growing up Gen X meant suffering.

Here are a few examples of suffering inflicted on Gen X kids in the 70s and 80s.

-Classmates who verbally tormented or excluded others.

-Coaches who withheld water at practice and/or berated players.

-Teachers who were quick to humiliate students in class.

-Neighbors who were racist and hateful.

-Parents who smoked in  homes and cars.

-Corporal punishment from parents including spankings and getting hit by the wooden spoon.

-And abuse—all types of abuse. Physical, sexual and emotional abuse were rampant in the 70s and 80s.

Yes, I am aware abuse is still rampant today, but today abuse is not tolerated by society as a whole like it was in the 70s and 80s.

I was physically abused by a nun while in 2nd grade. My entire 2nd grade class suffered extreme physical and emotional abuse. None of us received counseling.

I equate the acceptance of suffering with Buddhism. 

Yes, I grew up Gen X. I grew up humble.

I was violent for a short time, but I became peaceful. In fact, today I am gentle. I suffered a lot.

And so did you, I know. I am truly sorry that you suffered. I am also sorry that you suffered alone. Today I accept suffering as part of my life experience.

I am a Gen X Buddhist.

And I hope my writing helps you. You are not alone.
Photo: Pixabay

 

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