My last podcast and article on Bullying stirred many responses, some quite challenging. Some felt it hit the nail on the head, others thought it was too negative. One respondent questioned whether victims were always the weak. His child had been bullied, not because of weakness, but because of popularity and beauty.
Perhaps the word ‘weak’ is incorrect. For it is true that beauty can be excluded through the green eyes of jealousy and the intelligent prize winning scientists can be beaten down for their brilliance.
Whatever name we give to the players, we are in a war that has been pitting humans against each other. Cowardice and fear are the real predators – and the most vulnerable are their prey.
A conversation with a colleague led to the pervasive question, why? With all of our advances, our emphasis on self-esteem, our knowledge and socialization skills, is bullying becoming more prevalent?
The answer may be trite and over simplified, but it seems that the more we have materialistically, the more we lack in self-worth. Over the decades, we have become increasingly viewed as commodities rather than humans. Our culture trades us for the latest no less often than we trade our I-phones for the newest version.
Shoe sales have replaced shoe polish and botox has replaced crow’s feet. Computer games have replaced outdoor socialization and instant access has replaced patient waiting. ATM’s have replaced tellers and computer-check outs have replaced cashiers.
Our values have turned completely over and we are unconsciously fighting for our worth as our spirits feel less and less valuable.
Scarcity of jobs as the fall and holidays approaching, rise of school tuition, decline of America’s greatness, increasing competition for grades, awards, achievements, overload of extracurricular in the name of balance, ever present reinventing of the social hierarchy each September and political discourse that had dipped into an all time low of name-calling – with these realities slamming against us each and every day, there is little wonder that the future leaders of our nation are fighting each other and laying claim to whatever turf they can find to call their own.
We all need a break from the stresses of our society and the growth of paranoia growing within our national boundaries – and one bullying is one very available outlet.
Even with all of our advances, we continue to sink in the quicksand of the primitive brain, believing that if there is scarcity, either of love, validation, supervision, worth or education, then there must be a way to compensate.
And there must be a group, or a person who provides the pathway to compensation.
There is simply no way to stop bullying without a national conversion; a choice to turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh; a renewed commitment to restore our own families, schools, work places, grocery stores, neighborhoods, political discourse and public conversations to sanity, serenity and sobriety.
We can no longer walk around drunk from the drug of materialism, consumerism and exclusivity.
Only living in recovery from these addictions will be become more enlightened and aware when bullying is raising its terrorizing sword, taking it down with courage and fortitude.
Such awareness comes when we resist the urge to become commodities, when we choose socialization over computer games, when we urge the care of clothes and shoes and the value of crow’s feet, when we see wisdom in the old and hope in the young; when we as a society become more empathic, compassionate and less drawn to survival of the fittest, the smartest, the richest; when we show the world that we value our children more than we value our three car garages, that we promote the choice of a diversity of friends, that we avoid bullying our wives and our employees, that we reject all form of violence within our walls and on our yards.
Only through acceptance of our powerlessness over materialism will we find the power to begin believing that a greater power than self can and will restore us to sanity, bringing forth a day when the words bully and victim will disappear from the face of the nation.
The very reaching for a power greater than self provides medication for emotional pain, life’s storms and wrecks, human weaknesses of heart and mind; for it surrenders, not to the senses, but to the senseless, to mystery, to what is seen only by faith, to “the 8th day, when every tear will be wiped away.”
A higher power gives us strength to become vulnerable, to defend the voiceless, to stand against all oppression; it provides the courage to resist categorizing some of God’s children as somehow better than others; it gives us new eyes and as the Jewish scripture says, “hearts of flesh over hearts of stone”. It is a fundamental societal shift that transcends all religious doctrine and lights a fire of universal love.
As a result of our recovery, our interventions will be about building up. If bullying is passed through adults, then we as adults must promote behaviors, responses and options that promote the higher power within us – encouragement towards teamwork, achievement, service, empathy, compassion, active listening, understanding and even validating one’s fears as well as hopes.
One can’t simply stop bullying by saying “stop”. That’s like saying “don’t think of an elephant.” The only true interventions are those that believe in, seek out and draw forth one’s better, higher and truer self. It is systematic re-programming, wiping the dust off our birthrights as equal participants in our search for a more perfect union, that we are worthy of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
We can slowly eradicate bullying one event, one confrontation, one intervention at a time; and we must.
We can begin to consider challenging ourselves when we are tempted toward these behaviors:
- Constant nit-picking, fault-finding and criticism of a trivial nature
- Using half-truths to distort someone’s character
- Repeated attempts to undermine someone who is not present to defend themselves
- Entitlement to any “wants” that can easily be lived without
- Attitudes of self-righteousness and discrimination toward those who are different
- Name calling of ALL sort
- Singling out and treating certain people differently
- Behaviors that intentionally isolate and exclude people from what's going on,
- Repeated marginalizing, overruling, ignoring, sidelining, freezing out
- Situations where someone is belittled, demeaned and patronized, especially in front of others
- Replacing the human person with automation without training in another area of need
- Situations when someone is being humiliated, shouted at and threatened, tripped up or name called, often in front of others
- Being overloaded with work
- Increased responsibilities without adequate pay raise equity
- Refusal of annual leave and sick leave
- Denial of training necessary to fulfill one’s duties
- Making the job unbearable so that the employee will eventually quit
- Distorting and misrepresenting things said by others
- Coercing someone into leaving through no fault of their own
- Seeking the inner circle to the exclusion of others
- Jealousy that leads to scorn
- Name-calling certain populations
- Disallowing and disavowing interracial love
- Creating anticipated terror
- Texting vile personal attacks and hate email
- Cyber and internet ridicule
- Dehumanizing another human being through blame
- Using authority and power to threaten and manipulate
- Treating children with less dignity simply because they are vulnerable
Today, we can pledge to admit our powerlessness over consumerism and claim a power greater. We can restart our internal engines this day, fueling our mind with the courage to live in search of truth, oiling our tongues with the milk of kindness, tuning our decision making skills with the strength of conviction, filling our shoes with the warmth compassion and empathy, and caring for others justly and tenderly. And we can re-ignite the fire of universal love.