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Controversial Words on Bullies

Bully Lion small croppedBullying is a complex topic,[1] one that elicits extreme emotional reactions no matter what a person has to say about it. So I thought I might just make a few highly controversial remarks based on anecdotal evidence drawn from my own experiences as both bully and bullied. And let’s face the facts, if you have not, at one time or another been both, then would you please tell me what it was like growing up alone as a feral child in the woods?

1. You will never eradicate bullying and extreme legislation will only make the situation worse. We already have laws governing assault, theft, vandalism, and the like. What will Zero-intelligence policies, (ooops, I’m sorry, I meant Zero-tolerance policies) add to the equation? Now, my son denies the story, but these programs remind me of an incident that I swear I remember clearly, in which my son, afraid that his tottering 3 year old sister was going to fall down the stairs rushed to pull her back, summarily  knocking her down the stairs… maybe it was a dream, but I think he blocked the memory out. You cannot effectively deal with a complex issue such as bullying with ham-fisted policies that usually end up being used as a weapon against the very people they were intended to help. Bullies, however stupid they may be, are usually pretty crafty about manipulating every situation to the disadvantage of their victims. You can’t deal with bullying by throwing out legislation that seeks to eliminate something that is, no matter how unpleasant, a primary element of human interaction.  Bullying takes on so many forms that you may as well make policies against disliking people, and when that fails, policies to stop the students from speaking to one another. Better for schools to do the hard thing and actually deal with situations as they arise, enforcing the laws that already exist with some measure of wisdom, intelligence and grace.

2. The best thing that can happen to a bully is for someone to love them enough to a. see what they are doing and b. confront whatever it is inside of them that makes them want to hurt others, that makes them think that it is okay to hurt others. Stop making excuses for them. Maybe they are in pain. Maybe they are just plain mean. Maybe they lack basic empathy. Whatever it is, those who love them need to take serious measures to deal with them without excuses. Maybe they’ll grow out of it, but most likely their bullying will simply just grow into more mature forms as they age. Bullying doesn’t stop when you leave high school because it is one of the most basic ways one’s animal nature dictates for controlling outcomes.

3. The second best thing that can happen to the bully is for the people they bully to beat the livin’ crud out of them… or to at least cause them pain.  This is a hard thing for victims to do… one of the reasons they are victims, but one should never underestimate the impact of pain on the choices of another. Life is a process of choices based on result and consequence. I know these words mean the same thing in the dictionary, but I choose to use result to speak of positive outcomes and consequence to speak of negative outcomes… cuz I want to… so there! It’s the age old carrot and the stick… respond to the positive offer of reward in the carrot, or I’ll beat you with the stick. (Now, now… don’t be testy… I know how the carrot and the stick is really supposed to work.) Pleasure and Pain are the great teachers, the first of all the great teachers one can hope to have in life. Pain, in many forms, pierces to the marrow, creating a self-defensive response on a primal level. If we imagine that in our enlightened age we have evolved past the need for such basic animal tools, we are fooling ourselves.

[1] Let me be clear. There are levels of violence that go well beyond what most people mean by bullying, just as there is a difference between a bullied student fighting back vs. getting a gun and going on a killing spree. These acts of violence are not strangers to each other, the one being a vicious escalation of the other, but the means used to deal with them changes radically when one begins to deal with attempted murder, gang or group violence leading to injury, rape, kidnapping, and other forms of mindless disregard for the life of another. The line between normal though unacceptable forms of childhood struggle and criminal action can, at times, be fuzzy.

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