A few years back on a cold October afternoon, my husband was teaching an after school art class in a school cafeteria. He had set up his “classroom” with individual stations for his students. He did this in advance of the class so they would be able to dig in as soon as they arrived. There was a fifteen minute gap before the class began, and some eager young teachers came into the room to post their anti-bullying posters on the walls/ They dumped all their materials on the only table being used at the moment – the one my husband had set up for his class. He kindly told them that he had a class that would be starting shortly and asked if they could move their materials to another table. They responded by saying he was bullying them. They were dead serious in their response. This is just a small example of how people have become bullies without even acknowledging it.
The month of October is devoted to stomping out the use of humiliation, shame and adding guilt to behavior towards one another. There is a huge movement going on right now about showing tolerance, kindness and fompassion toards one another, while many continue to be the recipient of intolerable behavior. The epidemic we’ve been dealing with for the past couple years has created a new kind of shield that most of us are beginning to wear. It has nothing to do with masks or vaccinations, but the right to make a choice regarding our own health without stepping on anyone else’s toes. There has been a huge campaign to shame people if they aren’t abiding by the mandates of the land. People are being ridiculed – scolded – and guilted into thinking they are un-American if they don’t do what they’re told to do. In a way the bullying has gone viral.
Our most vulnerable are under attack not only because of the COVID issue, but for ridiculous reasons that result from wanting to be noticed or having a will to being mean to each other. Kindness is a lost art for some people and they prefer to be the center of attention by humiliating someone else. This is not limited to children. It moves quickly into the workplace as people feel that climbing the ladder of success requires stepping on people along the way. As we age, the bullying continues. You would think that people’s feelings wouldn’t get hurt after so many years of living, but they are considered to be vulnerable as well and sometimes even more so, because of their limitations.
From birth to death we’re exposed to this kind of behavior. Some folks can handle it better than others. As we age, some of those things are no longer important to us. Either we’ve learned to live with them or we begin to tolerate the behavior because we’re not as sensitive to it anymore. However, I believe that my generation suffers from being bullied as much as our youngest ones do. Maybe I’m being too simplistic about this, but if everyone treated each other as if they would like to be treated, it sure would eliminate a lot of problems in our world. I believe our Savior, Jesus talked about that many times during His ministry on earth.
Maybe we need to start by getting back to the basics of human communication – face to face conversations – problem solving through team work – getting rid of pride and need to be the best – compassion towards one another – love.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Phillipians 2:3