At “seventeen,” many of them are truly “going under,” exposed to and drowning in situations no one should be made to face at that age. Stories of abuse, neglect, poverty, hopelessness, depression, suicidal aspirations, and recklessness with sexuality, drugs, and alcohol are not uncommon.
There are few things I find more repulsive than deliberate cruelty. I don’t claim to have been or to be a saint. I’m sure I’ve behaved in a manner that came off as cruel to others at various points in my life. However, if I have, those incidents were the results of immaturity, ignorance, or misunderstanding, not deliberate cruelty, which is exactly and only what hazing amounts to.
It’s not sexy, but sacrifice as a path that leads to redemption is a theme that runs throughout the novel. It’s a path that a number of major characters in the novel must choose either to walk or to take the easier route that provides less resistance but no redemption.
The volunteers we “work” with are some of the most humble, kind, and generous people I have ever known, and even though I don’t even know most of their last names, I count them among my dearest friends and favorite people in the world.
Obviously, the fear I felt for my son wasn’t one-millionth of that which the parents I mentioned in the previous paragraph must experience daily. However, that one-millionth shook me to my core. It was MY son being threatened for simply adopting MY favorite team as his own when he was a daddy-pleasing little boy.