Dealing with bullies: Simple to complex

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

Dealing with a Bully

He was a bully.

He was bigger than the other kids in our Germantown neighborhood. Almost all the kids living in the Maple and Elm Street neighborhood got along really well, but Marvin used his size and his loud mouth to keep the rest of us intimidated.

When we would choose sides to play a game, Marvin would always be picked early, because we were afraid not to. We were afraid he would get mad.

He played rough. He never played fair, but we always let him play because nobody wanted to make him mad. Nobody wanted to tell him ‘No.”

One afternoon, I did something that made him mad, or just provoked him. I don’t remember what it was, but he decided I would be his next victim. It must have been my turn to receive his abuse.

It started with a push and a shove. He easily knocked me down. The one-sided fight began. Marvin pushed me, shoved me, hit me, and kicked me at will. All I could do was try to protect myself.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, came a whirl of arms and legs. The yelling was different. It wasn’t mine and it didn’t sound like Marvin. It sounded like my sister, Belinda.

I don’t remember the blow-by-blow details, but Belinda’s little arms and legs must have been flying. She scored plenty of good slaps and hits on Marvin. He didn’t wait around. He took off running.

On a normal day, sweet Belinda would never have fought anyone, but on that bright, summer afternoon, Marvin crossed the line. He attacked her little brother. When he picked on the other neighborhood kids, it didn’t seem to matter so much, but when he picked a fight with Belinda’s little brother, that changed things.

As I stated in a previous column, in 2012 we hosted a delegation of mayors and other elected officials from Ukraine for a visit of Wilmington. They were here for an entire day.

City managers showed off their departments. You could tell they were proud of what we had here in Wilmington.

We showed them everything from our wastewater treatment plant to the National Weather Service. Molly Dullea hosted them for lunch at the General Denver Hotel. Everyone had a grand time.

They had such a good time that the following year, they asked the Cincinnati delegation to invite me to join them for a trip to Kharkiv, Ukraine.

I readily agreed. We even decided to extend an invitation for three small cities in the Kharkiv region to become sister cities with Wilmington. They accepted. During our visit we signed all the necessary paperwork for Soloytsivka, Chuhuiv and Merefa to become our sister cities.

It was a joyous event. We celebrated with our new Ukrainian sisters. We met with dozens of people while staying in Kharkiv.

They were all kind and generous. The schools we visited were filled with bright-eyed, happy students, eager to learn and happy to visit with Americans.

As our trip was ending, I remember sitting in the airport in Kiev as we waited for our return flight to start loading. My thoughts and my heart were filled with memories of Ukrainian hospitality, warmth, and friendship.

The official paperwork we signed proclaimed that our cities now had a sisterhood relationship. I take that relationship seriously. As I sat there, remembering the warmth or our receptions and the kinship we had established, I felt it was true… we now had family in Ukraine.

When Russia surrounded and attacked Ukraine on February 24, it felt different. It wasn’t like a bully was attacking an unknown stranger. It was family.

The solution to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is going to be long, complex and bloody. I wish it could be as simple as my sister, Belinda, flying over to start kicking some Russian butt, but it’s going to take a lot more than that.

To end this war we will need the support of NATO, the UN, the EU, the USA and other peace- and freedom-loving nations to stop the Russian bully.

Until that happens, we can help our sister city of Merefa in Ukraine by sending them assistance. Using established connections with Merefa, a pathway has been established to send money directly from Wilmington to Merefa.

Our friends at the Wilmington Yearly Meeting at Wilmington College (Quakers) have a banking connection in our sister city. A few weeks ago, we wired $10,000 to them. That money will be used for fuel and maintenance of vehicles that will be used to distribute emergency supplies to that city.

To help, send a check to Wilmington Yearly Meeting, Pyle Center, Box 1194, Quaker Way, Wilmington, OH 45177. On the memo line, write “for Merefa.” All donations will be greatly appreciated.

Dealing with bullies has gotten a lot more complicated, but we can still do it.

Randy Riley is a former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.

Randy Riley

Contributing columnist