All too often, we mourn the senseless suicide of very distraught young people due to the intolerance and ignorance of the socially inept. The ones who are driven to taunt and make life hell for others in order to feel they are somehow better than those they pound down with words and violence. Their bullying rips into the very fiber of those they hurt and many victims can no longer take the assault on their individuality. Their pain is magnified by millions as many times they are emotionally destroyed through social media….mind you not a note written in class but written to the world. We feel saddened, unable to stop this horrible beast. Studies are run, awareness campaigns are developed and school prevention programs and protocols created. Yet the beast lives on.
I suggest we take a good, long mature look at ourselves. Take off the blinders, shed the ego armor, and stand naked within the light of truth. We must own our part in begetting the beast. We have fed it with our own behaviors and nurtured it with our hate. Simply put, our children have been watching us closely and learning well from us.
Telling children that bullying is wrong-yet demonstrating our own muscle flexing and power/control only negates the message. Do as I say and not as I do never flies. You may roll your eyes and shake your head in denial. I stand my ground as I am willing to call it like I see it.
Let’s take a look…
How many times have we seen individuals charge one another on the field of play at a sporting event? (This makes the 6:00 news) How many times have we heard the verbal exchanges between fans or directed at coaches while sitting in the stands? Do we think our children are deaf and blind to this? And when we talk in conversation about those who are different from us whether it is race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or even their dress- our views become attached to our children like lint to a cloth. When we beat our spouse, abuse our animals and our family – we teach our children that this is what to expect in life. And then we wonder when they treat others with such disregard.
And now we are in the midst of a very emotionally charged national election. So deep are the crevasses between many of us, we now have separated into the “us” and the “them.” The divisions spread with the ugliness of intolerance, anger and ignorance. The crevasses become a canyon. Our beliefs become our mantra and we sever from those so different from us. Self righteousness pervades our thinking and clouds our virtues. The beast is released and the bullying runs rampant. It grows. In our self-righteousness, we determine we have the right to exert our power and control. For example: we intimidate our employees as we offer “suggestions” about their voting. Such a personal and private right that men and women have given their lives for…to now be held hostage- by The Company Store. I resent seeing that happen in our country. Seeing racial slurs on billboards and t-shirts and the silent hanging of a noose in a tree- so heavy in its connotation. Why in 2012 is this happening? As our children watch with wide eyes and open ears.
Oh but bullying comes in many forms and while we may recognize it we ignore its presence and that too feeds the beast. Have we reached a time when we turn our heads on the founding democracy of this country? Have we determined the end is more important than the means to getting there? I fear it is so.
We have determined the way to success is to bully others to achieve. We are teaching our children to be intolerant. We are teaching them that intimidation is power. We are teaching them that racism and oppression = power. As a result we are teaching them that bullying begets power. We are teaching them that this unearned power is what we are here to obtain. As long as we march with this deprecating self-righteousness as our banner- we will never slay the beast and sadly more innocent will die. Seriously, we as adults must therefore…grow up and take responsibility. Our behavior created the beast, our behavior can end it.