I like to think of myself as a very tolerant guy. With most things I’m pretty easy-going. I don’t make a habit of judging because I don’t know how to be perfect. I get frustrated, I screw up, I let my faults get the best of me sometimes. I try my best to be a little better each day. Sure there are things that people do I don’t like. Sometimes I get pissed off about it. But in the end, there are very few things that I truly hate and refuse to put up with.
I hate bullying. I am against the practice and it enrages me more than just about anything else.
Does this come from personal experience? You bet it goes. I’m one of those people who was a geek before it was socially acceptable. I’m also not a very big guy. So yeah, I was a target of more than one bully. I also look back on my life and realize something that I’m not proud of. I’m pretty sure there were a few times when acted like a bully myself. What? Someone can get bullied and then tries to do the same to someone else? What form of voodoo is this?
Do I still encounter this as an adult? Yes, I do. Not from the same people, of course. I’ve actually had the experience of being bullied by someone when we were young and then, when we were both older, being friends because people can actually grow and change. Sadly, this isn’t everyone. And to me, adults who bully other adults are just pathetic examples of humanity. It reinforces the idea that some people never move past who they were as children. And now the tactic doesn’t scare me. It just gets me mad. But it does make me wonder who made this particular bully. Was it a peer? A parent? Just poor decision-making?
This brings me to something that really upsets me, which is parents who are bullies. Do you honestly think you are raising a well-adjusted person? You think that’s making your child strong? Sorry, but you are just raising an asshole and probably another bully. And don’t think it won’t bite you in the ass when you’re old. The bully you’ve helped create isn’t going to have much empathy for an elderly parent. I know people who were raised this way. They now have part of their personality that is a bully. I give credit to the ones who have acknowledged this and try to be better. The ones who can’t or won’t, I simply have no use for them in my life. Trust me, I understand that kids are a pain. I’ve been one and I’m raising two. But I refuse to sink to the level of bullying to get my kids to act a certain way. I’ll put it like this. Do you bully your child? Is that your go-to parenting tactic? Then you SUCK as a parent. You’ve failed. Period. You will never convince me otherwise.
I am happy that there has started to be a social backlash to bully behavior. And people who throw around the whole “We’re making pussies out of America” argument need to stop yelling and use their eyes and brains for a minute. Look at the country and the world at large. Do you really think raising the Legion of Ass-hats worked out well? And I’m willing to acknowledge that this argument has a point. A world of weak minds and hearts won’t get us anywhere either. But bullying does not build character. At best, it builds stand-up comedians. At worst, you get people who will cause pain with anything they can. They will use their politics, their religion, their money, their sheer physical strength. Because they have determined that this is how you get your way. Basically, we are a world of toddlers throwing temper tantrums. You can have a middle ground, people. I’m not in favor of handing out participation trophies when you didn’t win the game, but you can still acknowledge a person’s effort and encourage them to do better. It’s fine to thank someone for doing their job, especially if it’s not an easy one. No one is asking you to shower them with pots of gold and cupcakes. How hard is it for us to learn that we should treat people how we want to be treated? Apparently, pretty fucking hard.
Do you want to know what makes me the most angry about bullying now? You can’t escape it anymore. I’m terrified of what this means for my kids. Technology has made it easier to be a bully and never have to see the pain on your target’s face. They never have to see how alone, how less than human, this person now feels. Every time I hear about a kid trying to kill themselves (or succeeding in doing so) and bullying was the reason, I feel sick. It’s so much easier to do terrible things and not be accountable for it. It’s so tempting to just become a bully yourself. I love my kids and I’m confident that I can accept pretty much any choice they could make in their lives. If I ever find out that they were a bully to someone, I will unleash science fiction levels of punishment on them! And if anyone bullies them? In the words of one of my favorite authors, there will be a reckoning.
I’ve rambled a bit, and I apologize for that. Like I said, this enrages me. What is this need to cause pain in order to make ourselves feel big? I’m not completely naive. I know that bullying will never completely go away. But no one will ever convince me that trying to be a good person is a weakness. This is what I want my kids to embrace. It may be hard to do, but people need to realize there is a difference between a firm hand and a fist.