Put Up Your Dukes
Facing the "bullies" in our lives
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)
In the middle of the Landon High School playground in Jacksonville, Fl, a group of eighth and ninth graders gathered quickly after classes were over. They had heard through the grapevine that Butch was going to fight someone. Because Butch was a feared bully, they knew he would win and blood would flow but, who was the other kid for today's match?
Earlier in the day, a couple of rough boys, who heard that Skippy would not fight, gave him notice that today he would! So, after school, holding Skippy under his arms, the two boys marched him out of the school building and over to the waiting circle of anxious onlookers. Skippy could see one kid drawing a circle in the dirt with a stick.
In the circle, the boys placed Skippy to stand alone. Soon, someone yelled, "Here comes Butch!" Butch approached, trying to appear to be the angriest, meanest kid, just ready to do battle with anyone who dared.
"Where is he?" Skippy could hear him asking as Butch approached the crowd .
When Butch stood inside the circle with him, the crowd got very quiet. Butch had his fists up in front of him and was making loud breathing noises, as though he was just itching to get started and to get this over as quickly as possible.
"Yes," Skippy answered, looking directly into his eyes.
"You want to fight me, Skippy?"
Butch grinned, "Well, you're gonna! Put up your dukes!"
Skippy left both arms down, straight by his sides.
Butch started his loud breathing noises again to show he was just seething. "I said, 'Put up your dukes!'"
Skippy looked at Butch and was slightly amused at his noises. Although Skippy’s knees were shaking, he remained calm when he spoke.
"Jesus said it's not right to fight anyone."
Frustrated, Butch answered firmly, "You're just chicken. That's what you are, just chicken! Now, put up your dukes! I'm going to whup you right here."
Skippy's arms did not come up, and his hands remained open. With the same calm voice, he said to Butch, "I don't know if I am chicken or not, but I won't put up my dukes."
"You not gonna fight me?"
"No," Skippy again said calmly.
"What if I get in the first lick? Whadda ya think about that?"
Skippy answered, "Maybe you will knock my teeth out, or knock me down, or something."
"You think you'll fight me then?" Butch asked.
"I don't know; maybe I will be so angry I will, but let me ask you something."
Butch's fists got tighter and his arms moved closer to his chin. Cautiously, he asked, "What?"
"Why did you let all these kids put you up to this? They stand here laughing at the mean kid they got to fight the chicken. They don't have any respect for you, and you sure don't want any of them to be your friends. They don't think that you can talk except with your fists, but, as long as my arms stay down, I know you are not going to fight me. You've taken too long. That tells me that you fight fair. We need to stop this right now, be friends and let this crowd stop playing with your mind."
Butch looked long at Skippy without making a sound -- no heavy breathing, no words, nothing. Not once did his eyes turn to anyone else's. Then he dropped his left arm to his side, and with his right, he opened his fist and, without a smile, he proudly offered his hand to Skippy and said,
"We are friends!"
One can only imagine how disappointed some of the troublemakers in that crowd were immediately after "the fight," or how very proud Skippy was of Butch, or how proud Skippy's parents were that evening when he told them what happened on the playground after school that day.
Marvin Purser in his book: "Sometimes You Make Me Think, Sometimes You Make Me Laugh"