A key point in this writing is to set forth and substantiate the following: Bullying should be definitively viewed as a form of abuse, a formal medically recognized behavior disorder (in and of itself) and as crime, inclusive of when it happens on primary/secondary schoolyards. To many this statement likely may seem naïve, quaint, or silly, being that bullying is extremely common in our society and of course all around the globe – now and by all means historically. My counterpoint is that, no matter how common this behavior is, it is no less despicable and damaging. This pertains to what commonly goes on in our schools and workplaces, and of course innumerable settings: For simplicity, and to make the specific points I want to arrive at in this writing, I am focusing primarily on such behavior in our school systems (though of course the points herein can be applied in many settings).
The damage that this behavior prompts can be immense and debilitating – so much so that it is genuinely quite difficult to objectively comprehend: It can have horrific effects over the lifetime of one who has been treated in such a fashion, especially if it happens to them repeatedly – even more so over a number of years. It can affect not just the immediate victims over their entire lifetimes, it can even affect how they raise their children. Some may say that bullying and shunning ‘toughens people up’ – preparing them for the ‘real world’. While it may sometimes have that effect, that is NOT how it often happens. AND to be clear, a primary issue herein is that it is the actual act of bullying that should be viewed as wholly unethical and illegal, not just its potentially terroristic repercussions.
The great majority of individuals who have acted out as perpetrators of school shootings, were they themselves, bullied and shunned throughout their school years. OF COURSE, having been abused as such in NO WAY excuses the actions of those perpetrators, e.g., displaying any type of such behavior (beyond that of reasonable self-defense), first and foremost obviously, is inexcusable (though it may be easier to understand what got them to such a point, most particularly if we take into account that they were abused over many years).
It is QUITE clear that the great preponderance of people who have been bullied and shunned do not act out violently. Those who lash out with firearms often have some level of mental disturbance/illness, which in addition to having experienced ongoing abuse by their peers, is enough to push a relatively small number of individuals, over the edge. (I realize that this is a very touchy subject and some people may be offended by what is set forth herein. Albeit the points herein are based on factual evidence NOT ‘fake news’.)
On the flip side of this coin, is of course the bullies. They are cowards – as their behavior is truly cowardly (as is with most types of criminal behavior): Bullies wouldn’t bully if they didn’t think they’d come out on top or if they thought they would be held accountable – AND those who shun wouldn’t shun if they knew they’d be held accountable. These behaviors can manifest in people who think they are better/superior than those they are abusing. And most of these abusive individuals do not invent the notions of acting out as such, they of course learned it somewhere – from peers and even parental figures. An important point herein, is that however each individual or group comes up with and displays such behavior, it reflects mental instability just like an illness – it is displaying of chronically poor judgment and chronically poor insight. To take that logic further – such behavior should eventually be accepted as a distinct diagnosable behavior disorder (of course this won’t happen anytime soon – but I believe that eventually it will be).
This illness provokes such malevolent turbulence across societies, cultures, that it is almost impossible to fathom, to wrap one’s head around – so much so that it likely would be impossible to truly gauge statistically. Bullies of all stripes are among the worst actors on the stage setting of planet Earth. Most if not all of the wars and famines of human history are rooted in the behavior of such bad actors…bullies. I realize that there are many that are uncomfortable with more laws. Albeit, what we’ve been doing to lessen this behavior, isn’t working very well. At the very least, we need a strong movement the liking of which has never widely existed before. In order to greatly abbreviate this behavior in a widespread fashion, it will obviously necessitate a huge cultural shift – by way of the development, ongoing fine-tuning, and practical application of a truly benevolent healthful philosophy, one which would (even slowly) provoke truly substantive healthful change. This splendidly healthful philosophy would need to broadly become a way-of-life! The world view herein, is that the act of bullying needs to be viewed for what it really is…evil.
Well-meaning religious and philosophical traditions already embrace and display such healthful messages, but it would require religious, societal, and political leaders, from the national level to the local level, to broadly embrace and espouse the importance of this healthful outlook, and act accordingly themselves as genuinely healthful role models. AND OF COURSE this isn’t just about “leaders” embracing and espousing this healthful outlook, it is for all of us to do so.
This splendidly healthful philosophy would acknowledge and substantiate the genuine significance of the notion that we are all in the same common boat and we’d better start acting like it. It would additionally be founded on acceptance of the importance of dignity, decency, goodness, and grace – and true responsibility. What a different and wonderful world it would be as more and more and more people accept the notion of true health through true responsibility. What a different and wonderful world it would be if we raise ourselves up (and also teach our children) to better and better embrace the notion that we can learn to live life as a living loving art form – thus learning to better and better avoid stagnant plateaus which can be like a living death. It might sound again, naïve, quaint, or silly – or all of the above. It may sound ‘pie-in-the sky’, but some of the issues involving humankind’s greatest steps forward were seen beforehand as sounding naïve, quaint, silly, even quite ridiculous. Let’s have the biggest party in human history! The Same Boat Party!! (‘Hitting it out of the ball park’ TOGETHER!)
I realize that this is almost ‘beyond words’ difficult stuff – maybe nothing could be more difficult! But it is the only means by which humankind can evolve to a higher level. How can we objectively/insightfully argue that this is not the ‘right thing for the right selfless sake’? Something that we as a society should work really hard at? How important is it for us to openly acknowledge and embrace the great significance of seeing it as a dire responsibility to work to make the world a better place each day, versus tearing it down? It would require true honesty and true faith, and of course a societal passion to move us together toward a substantive step in SUCH a healthful direction – likely many small steps in it’s fine-tuning. It IS the right thing for the right sake, and maybe could even become a humble glimpse of Heaven…true happiness. — Dr. Glen Hepker
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