Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bullies, we're all bullies

When I was about 9, there was a weakling in the school yard.  A lad of my age, thin, unsure of himself, uncomfortable with the attention of others, keen just to be allowed to be.  Another lad, a ruffian, same age, same height but with muscles to go with it, picked on the weakling, wanting to needle him into a fight.

At the end of one yard break, having watched him work up to using fists, I could take no more and stepped in to stop the bully.  I think I took a punch or two, and delivered one or two, but like to think that I ended the unwanted attention that Randles (the bully's name) was showing to the other.  Certainly throughout my high school career, Randles never paid any attention to me!

(Randles of course, never improved.  He was destined to a low life from the beginning, and nothing the generous yet disciplined headmaster could do was going to change things.  On the day Randles was expelled from school, some six years later, he proceeded round all the boy's washrooms, punching out all the glass windows, literally with his fists.  Some time later he was caught in the Old Boy's club painting all the billiard balls, just for the heck of it.  Perhaps just a rebel, but with a nasty mean and uncivilised streak to him.  I've lost touch with him, havent heard of him (certainly not from him) since, but am certain he became a recidivist.)

Randles was a bully in the normal and frequently understood sense of an individual who would happily beat up on those judged weaker than himself.  We think of them as undisciplined, untutored, highly selfish and wanting to live by their own distorted rules, and not by those of a civilized cooperative society.

The story out of BC recently of Amanda Todd fits this mould:  A bully taking advantage of an impressionable young girl leading tragically to her suicide.  As does too the story of Malala Yousufzai in Pakistan:  A bully taking violent action against an idea he does not like, personified by a young courageous girl, who we are all hoping will survive the tragedy.

Everywhere we are seeing politicians calling for efforts to reduce if not eliminate bullying.  Our national politicians think we need an anti-bullying strategy, words for us to live by in combatting bullies in our schools.

But the real problem is not in the schools.  It is the adults themselves.  Until we can show public behaviour that is not bullying we will not provide the desirable non bullying examples to our youth.  We are surrounded daily with examples of adult bullies that it is hard to realise do not show the behaviour our youth should adopt for themselves.

- The way our prime ministers prorogue our parliaments, denying us fair representation.

- The way our leaders, leaders of all nations, happily wage war on defenseless people.

- The way the same leaders extol the virtues of their own returning corpses, but fail to recognise the loss of vastly many more non-combatant civilians in the conflicts.

- The way 'our' wars are now fought for us by drones.

- The way our business leaders ask for a level playing field, ignoring the fact that the bigger you are the easier it is to play in such a field.

If I thought longer and made this a longer blog, I could come up with a great long list of bullies past and present.

And we let them get away with it!  We are either bullies ourselves, condoning the activities of our 'leaders,' or they have succeeded in bullying us into submission.

Bullying on a national and international level, is setting the new normal.  Unless we stand up against it at this level, as well as the school yard, we are all accessories to bullying.

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