“When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sandpaper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished, and they end up useless.” Anonymous
“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.” Thomas Mann
Bullying has received a great deal of attention in the last few years! In most cases, publicity has been around the bullying of children as it should be due to the need of protecting our most innocent and vulnerable. In fact, if not curtailed early enough, the residual effects of trauma can seep their way into adulthood. While some people become more resilient, others do not. Being small in stature, I was occasionally bullied as a child. When one particular individual threatened to beat me, I called her bluff, and it never occurred again. In fact, we remained good friends throughout our school years. Rather than become docile, I became quite feisty, and to this day, my anger is piqued when someone is bullied especially the most powerless in our society including our voiceless pets.
Bullying is truly a cowardly act! It is about abuse and misuse of power. In my humble opinion, bullies often have to exert their muscle because of some form of deep insecurity. The wonderful, metaphoric movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” magnificently displays this very theme. As we observe, the cowardly lion tries to act like a tough guy, and only when Dorothy stands up to him is he exposed for who he truly is. Unfortunately, this cannot always occur in real life. Many victims of bullying carry the secret in fear of incurring even more abuse. It is a most devastating issue, and parents should remain vigilant if they believe their children are being victimized.
Bullying also occurs at the adult level. Sometimes it is in the form of outright physical and emotional abuse by a spouse or caretaker. In other instances, it can be done through humiliation and dehumanization as demonstrated in the disturbing movie “Full Metal Jacket.” Populations which are most at risk are the seniors, disabled and already traumatized individuals. Again, society must not ignore these populations. As part of our humanity, we must continue to be ever so watchful, and if we suspect any such affliction, immediate intervention is imperative.
Bullying is not always obvious. It can be in the form of ostracizing. This can take place within friendship circles, neighborhoods, places of worship and even the workplace. There are those managers or superiors who may excel at their craft and consequently get promoted. These workers, diligent or ambitious as they may be, often have inadequate people skills. If they do not fancy a particular employee, they might lose their expected professional neutrality and, and if not criticize, simply ignore or exclude them from meetings or even promotions. Quoting the extremely successful Richard Branson, “…The key is to treat your staff as you would like to be treated.” The golden rule can transcend in any culture.
Finally, 21st century bullying is embedded in our social media. Texting and tweeting can be forms of bullying through cruel and vile messaging. We often forget how injurious words are until they are laid out front and center. Instagram and Facebook can also add fuel to fire not only with messaging but pictures and videos which might show acts of betrayal, harassment and exclusion. Remember, the Internet never forgets even if it floats to the cloud. Through this venue, bullying remains imprinted forever and retrievable at any time.
There are no easy answers. Bullying has occurred through the ages, and thankfully, although not often enough, bullies are taken down much to their surprise and chagrin. The story of David and Goliath has its merits. It is most important for those in positions of power to be thoughtful and aware and intercede on behalf of those being harmed. For those being victimized, as much as possible, seek assistance from someone whom you can trust and who will extend a compassionate and helping hand. Practice reminding yourself that you deserve far better and this too shall pass because truly nothing stays the same. Do not let these acts of bullying define you! The best revenge is living your life successfully. Eventually, you will be able to look at those bullies and see them for who they are, cowardly lions!