I’ve been struggling with composing a post about human expression and fragility, but it’s as though my brain synapses are clogged with chunky cement soup, hardening slowly, threatening to mold into a frozen stillness forever. Maybe that is a little melodramatic… Actually, the thoughts and connections just aren’t quite firing as expected and the concepts have not come fully together. Amazing how fragile even communication methods seem to be.
While that “fragility post” conflict has not been conquered as of yet, during the thought process, a related topic snagged my attention – bullies and bully behaviors blamed so often that “bully” appears to have become the news headline of the season. Coincidence or not, the multiple events that recently flooded the front pages were reported by media to have been motivated by bullying, or carried out by those who may have been bullied. There were the violent tragedies involving teenagers committing suicide, and involving a kid bringing a gun to school to kill others. And there was the parent accusing a winning high school football team of bullying with their high score. And most recently, a NFL player’s behavior towards a teammate was described as bullying.
Whether “bully” is appropriate or not in each instance, through the media presentation, “bully” has become the scapegoat, the focus, the blame. Perhaps it is the victim mentality perpetuated by mainstream media. Perhaps it is the same old broken record of needing to find something or someone to blame in order to identify a problem to fix. Maybe the concept of blame is getting some plastic surgery, a new face. The face of a bully – and no one likes a bully.
I remember a particular bully at my junior high school who for some reason simply hated my best friend. No particular reason for the hate, and the bully intimidated my friend with biting words and dagger stares in the hallway, which were reinforced and enhanced when the bully walked by with several of her friends. The bully sessions never progressed to punches or physical contact, but most of the time that is not needed to fully get the bully intention across. Of course, today, add technology and social media and bullying becomes much easier to accomplish and more widespread. From personal experience and just living through the public school system (okay, just living within our society), bullying behavior exists and can have severe consequences. But, does it deserve all the blame? Or is this only a method of thinking and does “blame” even need to be established?
Of course, this line of questioning leads to additional questions. But maybe it’s worth wading through the question marks.
If not bullies, what should the focus be? I definitely do not have a definitive answer, but do bullies cause suicide? I don’t ask that out of insensitivity, but I’m just trying to see another perspective, another “how” of thinking. Because the one that is offered to me through media just isn’t working out. What about focusing on elements within an individual and an environment that directly impact methods of thought such as self esteem, self confidence, peer pressure vs thinking for yourself, communication, creative expression, stress/anger management, self defense tactics (physical and emotional) and creating personal boundaries? – a discussion applicable and relevant on a society level, for everyone, not just the “bully” and the “receiver.”
Changing the focus, not to change the “blame”, but to change how one even thinks about the issue. At this point, I have an engrained expectation to hear about violent bully tragedies on a daily basis. I expect news stories about the next school shooting to be caused by bully behavior. How am I thinking? Do I want to continue with a reaction-based frame of mind, or does that strengthen victim behavior? Instead of reactive and waiting for the next incident, what if I change the perspective to pro active, aware of the behaviors, motivations and intentions surfacing to the extent that the actions are not simply thrown to the scapegoat of “bully?” Perhaps the whole concept of “blame” should disintegrate from our vocabulary and method of thinking.
© M.R.Collier, A Way of Your Own, 2013