Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bullying: A National Cause

I wrote this as a note on my Facebook page, but wanted to share it here as well.

After several media spotlighted suicides over the past several months, many because those who committed suicide were gay, the White House has announced an Anti-Bullying Conference tomorrow.  Groups such as the Trevor Project, I'm sure have been very instrumental in bringing this to our collective conscious.  I salute them and their work.  Many celebrities have made heart-felt videos telling us that it gets better.  I've even shared my own story with some and can say truly that it does get better, however, it doesn't go away. 

Teenage bullying is only the tip of the iceberg.  Remember that children model the behavior they're taught and bullying is all around us.  Look at any reality show and chances are the game is won by bullying.  Bullying is defined as one person asserting his will aggressively or through intimidation.  This can be done through threats, alliances, and manipulations.  I just described Big Brother, Survivor, The Bachelor, and The Biggest Loser.

So, that's reality television, we say.  It's entertainment.  It's also teaching our kids that bullying works.  If it didn't there wouldn't be a problem.

We are bullied all the time. We're bullied by the guy in the giant SUV who speeds up behind you on the highway and stays on your tail until you succumb to his will and change lanes or speed up.  The workplace is full of bullies.  Bosses who get away with outrageous and inappropriate behavior because everyone is afraid to report them.  Besides, aren't we just lucky to have a job?  Don't want to rock that boat.  

At our churches, we're bullied into giving a percentage of our income, or we face eternal damnation, while the Reverand is adding a wing to his home, or building a giant Jesus statue.   Politians bully us all the time.  They scare and manipulate us into electing them and then they bully us into giving up our civil liberties.  

So, you see, bullies are everywhere.  Does it get better, or do we learn to eat so much shit in our lifetimes that we accept it as the norm?  We tell ourselves that we're powerless.

Maybe the real answer lies in each of us.  Bullying doesn't go away, but we grow stronger and learn that we can stop giving the bullies the power over us.  

Here's what I want to say to anyone who feels bullied.  "It does get better, because you get better.  You learn what you are willing to accept and what you're not.  A bully doesn't win if you just say NO."

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