Yes, he was the child bullies cruelly named “Pork Chop,” abandoned by his parents and raised by his grandmother. The poem was written from life experiences of the poet and others he knows, with poetic license taken only to soften some of the horrors, not inflate them.
“My hope is [that the video] would reach some of the people who were just out there looking for something to get them through another day,” he explains. “When I wrote the poem two years ago and people started coming to me because they just needed to talk after hearing it, I realized this is not a Canadian problem or an American problem, it’s everywhere.”
After watching the poem, I started thinking about my 17-year-old son, who recently told me, “I only hate four people in this world.” Not being a fan of hate, I asked him to explain. He “hates” with an active passion the one who bullied his girlfriend, another who bullied him, and the witnesses who failed to help either of them.
My son – bullied as a high school freshman at age 14 – vanquished his bullies verbally, physically, and socially after taking the Gracie Bullyproof course. Now a high school senior and jiu jitsu blue belt, he daily comes between bullies and their prey, choosing to ride the bus when he could drive.
He conquered the bully, but not the hate that grows like an invasive weed enriched by feelings of humiliation, fear, helplessness, and worthlessness that the bullies heaped on him and those for whom he cares. While I spoke to him about it at the time, I wasn’t motivated to follow-up and up and up, until I watched “To this day.”
Koyczan’s video is rapidly becoming a phenomenon, a candle in the global window that has lit the way for victims to find unity and former bullies to repent and seek redemption, the poet says.
“It’s amazing to me how common [bullying] is and that it’s not just the victims but the bullies who come up to me to talk,” Koyczan says. “I believe the bullies must be forgiven. That’s how we heal.”