I can stop bullying.

I see so much pain daily as I watch human interaction! I regret to admit that I’m not above contributing to that pain. Sometimes I debase myself by hurting others. I do. I get angry, insecure. But I’m trying to be better.

What follows is what I think I need to do.

Before I trumpet my belief, express my passion or desire, I must always consider whom I will hurt.

I must not look at demeaning images, or participate in demeaning jokes or language. I must consider that by so doing, I am reinforcing a distortion of reality – a perversion, which goes against reason, and worse, I am making people around me feel inadequate. They can try to disregard the feeling, but it haunts them. I can tell them that I respect them, but they will always fear that they will be the butt of my jokes. They will always feel that they fail to measure up to an ideal that I reinforce even to myself every time I support these distortions – pornography, racist or sexist jokes. Surely these things are harmful to my relationships. Surely these pursuits are bound to make people sad and mistrustful of each other.

When I debate a point, if I’m right, and I know it, I need to proceed with caution because I now have the power to really hurt another person. It is cruel to verbally “beat down” someone – to “put him in his place”.  No one can find out he’s wrong without feeling humiliated and embarrassed. Surely I can argue reasonably and politely, protecting the feelings of the person I am correcting? Surely I can hold my tongue at times and not feel the need to correct everyone with whom I disagree.

If I am in a position of leadership in which I make policy decisions, I must never lose sight of the possibility that I may harm some people with my decision. And I must always err on the side of protecting the weak. The strong will be able to survive a little bit of adversity, but the weak – the poor, the sick –  have very little to give up. The tiniest disruption of their ecosystem is a huge crisis for them. I must recognize that I am very lucky and that most people are not so lucky.

When I am walking down a sidewalk in a group of people, if I encounter someone coming the other way, I must move to single file so that the other person doesn’t have to step off the sidewalk or get out of my way. I must be gentle and considerate. I must let others go before me in line. I must watch where I’m going. If I bump someone, I must say “Excuse me,” and mean it sincerely, especially if I am the bigger person. I must consider where I place my shopping basket in the grocery store, and try not to get in people’s way. I must look in my rearview mirrors when I drive, and let people in, and allow them to make mistakes on the road without subjecting them to my arrogant derision. I too make mistakes.

When I talk to elderly persons, I mustn’t look down at them for their frailty. I know nothing of their ways, of the world they navigated through when they were my age. I must respect them. They have given their whole life to my society – have paid their taxes, raised children, fought the necessary fights, suffered. They have wisdom that I can only hope to attain. I must remember that one day soon, I too will be old, and I will want to preserve my dignity. The least I can do for the elderly is protect their dignity. I must give them an ear, give them a seat on the bus. I must listen to their wisdom, and treat it as a precious gift.

When I see someone getting picked on, I must go to his side, no matter how my reputation will suffer. This is courage. I must speak gently all the time, and I must listen more than I speak. I must resist the urge to be the centre of attention. I must love the people around me. I must care about them. I must state my case simply and know in the back of my mind that as much as I think I know, my whole world view could be wrong. I must listen to everyone: to the frail, the weak-minded, to people who live in uncomfortable social awkwardness. On any given day, I too am awkward and likely to say the wrong thing. I must be patient and understanding. I must ease the suffering of those who lash out. I must not reflect their hostility back to them, but answer them with gentle understanding.

When I have hurt someone, I must apologize. I must go alone to the person I’ve offended and seek his forgiveness. I must do it quietly and of my own volition. It’s better when it isn’t expected. I must try not to be a threat to anyone, but to be someone people can trust.

I must be an activist. I must have the courage to stop something that I don’t feel is right. I must have the courage to stand up for change I believe in. I must get off my chair and vote. I must attend the protest. I must try to find out what’s going on and try to understand it. I must write down or speak my concerns (gently).

The world can be a lonely, lonely place. We spend far too much time alone. I yearn for companionship and compassion. So must everyone. Above all, I must love.


Note: Comments must focus on issues. Any comments containing derisive tone or insulting language will be deleted. You may disagree vociferously, but you must be respectful. For example, no sarcasm is allowed.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s