When I saw this picture on Facebook this past week, I was struck by the truth in the words. The anti-bullying movement is good and necessary. If I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t have published several posts on the topic. Nevertheless, there are many who have manipulated this movement and who zealously put the “bully” label on anyone who openly disagrees with their way of life. I would even go so far as to say that some of them are bullies playing victim by guilt-tripping anyone who openly opposes their beliefs.
Just because someone disagrees with your choice of lifestyle, for example, because of personal or religious values, does not mean that they are rejecting you. There may be some of you who will disagree with some of the things I say in my blogs, especially in the ones where I share my Faith. To me, that’s not bullying. That’s a difference of opinion. Our personal history and experience have a big part to play in the beliefs we hold on to today. It’s just as unfair for anyone to bully us for disagreeing with us on these as it is for us to bully others, but there is no law that forbids us from having a different opinion and expressing it. This is called freedom of speech. It’s a basic human right.
The following advice may make me a little unpopular, but here goes anyway. If people disagreeing with you make you feel targeted, then you need to look deep down inside. There could be many reasons why: past abuse makes you anticipate criticism before it happens, low self-esteem, or maybe even a guilty conscience. If someone’s words trigger our conscience, it’s easy to feel bullied by that person who triggered it. A guilty conscience is the worst critic to have breathing down your neck. It’s relentless.
The point of all this is not to water down the reality of bullying. It really does happen. As we have seen in recent years, it’s definitely a reality in our schools. In some cases, it has lead to suicide. This awareness now allows us to be proactive in dealing with it. Rather than letting the victims play the victim, we need to empower them to stand up for themselves and to deal with the bullying issues in safe and confidential ways where it’s needed. In 2009, an organization called Stop A Bully (www.stopabully.ca) was founded for the purpose of giving schools and students the means to deal with bullying in its early stages by means of an anonymous reporting system. School administrations usually learn about the bullying after it’s been going on for while, sometimes only after it’s too late. We need more initiatives like that to equip our young population to deal with bullying. I believe that the main need is for kids to learn how to stand up for themselves and stop the bullying dead in its tracks at the onset.
What skills would you teach children that would help them face their bullies? What have you done in the past?
Be a light to those around you today!