If there’s one thing I can say is universally hated by people, it’s bullies. Bullies have gotten the full-court press in movies, television shows and various media platforms, usually with the protagonist somehow “winning the day” in a very David a& Goliath kind of way and putting the bully in his (or her) place. It’s the kind of scenario that gives most people a warm, fuzzy feeling of justice being served and seeing karma in action. However, bullying scenarios in real life very rarely play out this way.
In school, I was bullied. And I don’t mean the run-of-the-mill snowflake definition of bullying that we often see these days. I mean several members of my school’s hockey team cornering me and taking turns throwing shots into my rib cage until I was curled in a ball on the floor crying. I got some of the former, as well but for the most part, it was mostly the latter. Classrooms were mostly safe, with the operative word being “mostly,” but I would usually hustle to my locker and back with a constant eye over my shoulder.
Arriving and leaving from school would require stealth on my part so that I wouldn’t be spotted by one of the many aggressors. Don’t even get me started on what began happening when I purchased my first car and started driving it to school. It made it difficult to genuinely focus on my studies and schooling and I often wonder how much better my grades would have been and what doors that could have unlocked for me, had I been permitted to study, unhindered. But I digress…
I know some of my close friends from my youth were subjected to bullying, as well. I never really understood the WHY behind it. It always seemed as though it lacked a certain logic or reasoning. After all, bullying really serves no practical purpose. In order to understand the WHY, let’s start by being very clear on what a bully actually is. A bully is someone who tries to harm, intimidate or coerce someone they perceive as being weaker than them.
In my experience, and I unfortunately have a significant amount of it, bullies will usually attack their victims for a few key reasons:
1. They’re going through something themselves and are lashing out against their victims because it’s a situation they can’t control. this can include being bullied themselves or suffering abuse at home;
2. They think it makes them look cool. Humans are pack animals and the societal hierarchy can sometimes be difficult to navigate for people. If you find yourself in a group that will revere you for pushing around someone else, some would see that as an opportunity;
3. There’s something about their victim that they revere, themselves. It can be hard seeing someone else in a situation you feel that you’d rather be in. Maybe their household is better off, financially. Maybe they have more friends, have someone they’re dating… Who knows? This can lead some bullies to feel that they need to lash out because of those factors.
No matter what the reason, the firm agreement that I think we should all have is that there is no valid reason for one person to bully another. It can be frustrating, especially when such a thing is happening to our children. I say it that way because, believe it or not, there is a significant amount of bullying that occurs within the adult realm, as well. Although some movies and shows would suggest the best route is to simply pop the main bully once and everyone will leave you alone, this is very rarely the case.
Given the current state of society, there’s a much more significant spotlight on bullying and its effects than there was during my generation. The bottom line is that if someone is being bullied, they should come forward and talk about it. Although there can often be a feeling of embarrassment, it’s important to recognize that everyone is deserving of a harassment-free environment and we all need help, sometimes, to achieve that goal. Whether that means discussing with one’s parents or teachers if you’re a minor or speaking with law enforcement or hopefully the individuals themselves, if you’re an adult.
The unfortunate reality is that there have ALWAYS been bullies. Despite new laws and society’s focus on the topic, there’s no sign of that going away anytime soon. It’s how we choose to deal with it and rectify the situation that defines us as a people. And to all the bullies out there, shame on you! There’s enough suffering in the world without you adding to it. Find some other release valve for your negative emotions and leave others in peace. You may be fortunate enough to find a little slice of peace yourself, if you do… ☯️