What About Bullies?
“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked,
but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” ― Michael J. Fox
We’ve all seen it. On some level, we’ve all engaged in it. On occasion, we’ve all been subject to it. In a world that agrees on little—we can all agree that bullies represent a societal and cultural cancer in desperate need of excision. This purposeful act of cruelty, for no reason other than harming and destroying another person’s spirit, is the epitome of cowardice exercised by people so insecure and desperate for attention, that seizing it through the spiritual destruction of another becomes an attractive option. More bad news? Like many other diseases, the solution is not to eradicate it—but to acquire the means of resisting it.
I’m purposely taking a simplistic route in dealing with bullies because I believe that as a society, we tend to over-complicate and over-think “solutions” to many cultural problems that do little more than plant the seeds for a dozen other problems. You have an itch-you scratch it. You see a fire-you douse it. A fly buzzing around your face doesn’t get negotiated with. The sun is a constant. Rather than complain about its ability to burn you, grab a tube of SPF-100 and this giant ball of fire instantly becomes impotent. Engagement is unnecessary when effective means of resistance is available.
The first line of defense begins with the adoption of a “no victim” zone. I believe that a bully is rendered meaningless more through the attitude of their intended targets than the absence of a physical threat. If you refuse to view yourself as a victim, ever—you’ve taken away the power of the bully. This is a learned skill. This is a modeled behavior. This demands the eradication of self-pity, coddling, and indulgence as salves for the bullied. I despise the WORD “victim” because I think it robs the targets of bullies of a key tool in defeating bullies-a steadfast refusal to be a victim. Once that label is attached to anyone—you might as well tape a permanent “Kick Me” sign to their backs.
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.” –Albert Einstein
The second line of defense is even simpler. Either we embrace the principle of “I am my brother’s keeper” or we relinquish any notion that we are either right or just and are simply hypocrites to our faith and what it means to be a citizen. We all have within us the ability to stop bullying in its tracks by standing up for the bullied. The only crowd that a bully wants around are onlookers to their cruelty-not active protestors to their wanton acts of abuse. It is a moral imperative that we confront bullying and abuse to our friends and fellow citizens with expedience and resolve. History is nearly universal in showing us the horrific outcomes of ignoring or tolerating evil aggression. The stakes aren’t as high in a school hallway or workplace, but the principle is just as important.
Life is unbearably short and littered with an infinite array of obstacles to our happiness and threats to our well-being. I have always maintained a simple philosophy of controlling what I can while ignoring what I can’t. I long ago embraced the Prayer of Serenity, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The deliberate and intentional cruelty of a bully is something that every one of us can damn well do something about.
“Your silence is consent.” –Plato