THE CULTURE OF BULLYING ADULTS
It’s International Anti-Bullying Day
Hear the word “bullying” and your mind quickly conjures up images of the bigger kid on the playground with his fist raised high above the trembling form of a smaller kid, or maybe the scene in the hallway of two boys tumbling on the floor AKA World Wide Wrestling style, or a group of “beautiful” girls in the lunchroom gossiping and pointing toward a pimply, fat, unpopular girl, calling out names like “Lardo”, “Fatty”, and “Ugly”.
Take those images into the next decade or two of the lives of those same kids and what do you see? Many times what you will find is that those young bullies, who found that sense of power, took that aggressiveness with them into adulthood. You might think that as we mature we, well, mature. Unfortunately, that false sense of power and control that some of us adopted into our identities as kids becomes a cornerstone of the adult persona.
Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to control, intimidate or abuse others. And an adult bully has the same basic goal as a child bully – to gain power over others and keep that imbalance of power in check. They humiliate, harass, and dominate their victims – or targets – to make them feel powerless, inferior, and afraid.
In many ways, we support and exist in a culture of adult bullying. For instance, from a recent NY Times report on an incident in the NFL: “On the Miami Dolphins’ practice field, players simulated sexual acts as they taunted a teammate about his sister. In the team’s hallways and meeting rooms, racist epithets and homophobic language flowed…verbal and physical abuse was widespread and even celebrated.” (“‘A Classic Case of Bullying’ on the Dolphins, Report Finds”, February 14, 2014)
A justification of “motivation” is always a poor rationalization for behavior in which any figure of authority uses intimidation, ridicule, or humiliation of another.
And that rationalization extends way beyond the football field into virtually every workplace where any one adult, or group, condones the use of intimidation to gain power and authority over others. It extends into the very fiber and fabric of our country. Adult bullying includes the mobbing tactic of global discrimination by one group against another based on differences of class, race, religion, gender, and sexuality.
What can we do about Adult Bullying? We can develop and adopt a broader concept of the “Golden Rule”, and not only treat others the way we want to be treated, but begin to:
- Dialogue With One Another – communicate effectively in an effort to bridge the differences that we share individually, and as a nation, and to reflect upon those differences in a positive and constructive way.
- Understand Our Differences – begin to use that communication to truly learn about one another, see things from the another perspective, and develop a new perception of reality that is inclusive of every human being. Often we are afraid of our differences only because they are something we don’t yet understand.
- Respect Those Differences – we are all citizens of one nation under God – however you choose to view and/or define God – we were created, and according to the eyes of God and the law of the land, we are equal.
Accept Those Differences – whether or not we agree, or adopt any certain belief or lifestyle, or adhere to any religious conviction – we can choose to learn about, to understand, to respect and yes – to love – one another.
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” Princess Diana