“BULLYING – abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger and more powerful.”
In junior high school I weighed about 145 pounds, I was gangly and scrawny, and my oversized ears and nose made me an easy target for the big boys waiting in the gym where I had to go after lunch on my way to my next class. Punching, poking, slapping, and pushing became such a stressful occurrence that I ended the school day with an extreme gastrointestinal disorder. But the physical abuse was more tolerable than the name-calling and ridicule of my physical appearance. I recovered from the punching and poking much sooner than the hurtful words.
The teachers were aware of the ongoing abuse. Their advice was to fight back. Not only was that a stupid idea, the big boys collectively weighed about 800 pounds, but it was an unacceptable option in the tradition of my faith. The end result was that a young junior high school student blamed himself for the abuse and felt he actually merited the bullying because he was not only ugly but a coward as well.
We hurt each other with actions and words most often unaware of our indiscretion. Mindlessness is not a virtue but it is forgivable. Bullying is not mindless. It is intentional, demeaning, diminishing, and tragic. Today’s media headlines tell of young girls who are bullied at school and on social media and then choose suicide as the only option. As young as twelve years old, they end their lives over an act of social injustice which tells them they are unworthy of living..
Yes, it is injustice. Bullying is an action and an attitude. It is an outrageous verbal and physical assault on those who are vulnerable, those who are unable to fend for themselves. It is cowardice at its ugliest. As a nation we are witnessing bullying in our highest government offices, in the powers seated in Washington, D.C., in the Oval Office of the White House. We witness bullying in corporate offices, in the entertainment industry, in the factory, and in schools. It is fed by bias, racism, discrimination, sexism, xenophobia, and unfettered ego.
We are building a world where bullying is not tolerated. In that world the pain inflicted by words and actions on weaker victims will no longer exist. The tears and sorrow suffered in grieving for loved victims will no longer exist. The strong and powerful will be made to serve and the meek will be exalted. That world will manifest someday, but until then it is our responsibility as members of a righteous humanity to oppose bullying at all levels of society and courageously expose it for the cowardice which it is.