I think for many of us, when we think of bullying, the image that pops into our heads is that of a scrawny, bespectacled child handing over his lunch money to a bigger, brawnier kid with a henchman or two at his back. Deep down, we know that this scenario is sad and wrong, but we’ve seen it so many times either in movies or real life that we’ve slowly become inured to the idea. In the animal kingdom, this same scenario is common place where “survival of the fittest” is the rule to live-or-die by and the weak, with nothing to offer in lieu of, simply become lunch.
There are, however, other, more damaging ways to bully and I, for one, am tired of it.
I have a friend, a smart, animal-loving, kind and gentle friend who also happens to be disabled. Her life has taken her down more than her fair share of rocky roads and now, in her later years, she finds herself in less than optimal circumstances, living in a very neat and well maintained mobile home in a park run by bullies; she is sandwiched in on both sides, tormented and harassed by bullies; she has been subjected to the worst kind of treatment by her neighbors which is both supported and encouraged by the park’s management, and she is represented by the worst kind of bully: an attorney who doesn’t like conflict, who doesn’t see the harm in letting the wolves circle and threaten and snap at her door and at her heels, and who has little compassion for his clients and even less understanding of the circumstances in which they find themselves.
We’ve set up a system in our society where those who are the least able to stand up for themselves are fair game to be preyed upon and victimized by the bullies as well as the system. We tell ourselves that there are agencies, both governmental and charitable, working to protect these people but the truth is, the burden of proof is on the victim and the process one must go through to get help is as threatening and uncomfortable as the bullying.
Do you need legal aid? Prove that you are destitute and worthy of assistance and maybe, just maybe–if you jump through our hoops to our satisfaction–and fill out this stack of forms, and account for every penny you have, and prove to us that you are not at fault, that you didn’t step one toe over the line, we’ll consider your case and get back to you in oh, say, a month or six weeks. Good luck in the meantime. As for legal advice? Keep your doors locked and your head down and don’t stir up trouble. Stay inside, avoid your neighbors, walk your dog after dark, don’t make eye contact or respond to threats and taunts, and have a nice day.
As a friend, rather than a family member, I have no legal ability to help my friend. I can’t schedule appointments, talk to attorneys or to the park’s management or the neighbors on her behalf. I have no legal standing, no caché, no authority to protect her. I do the best I can to encourage her, to try to pull her back from the funk and the abyss of loneliness and dejection. Her stores of energy and white hot indignation have long been depleted. She has her memories of what it was like to be whole and happy and a welcomed part of her community. But the truth is, the cracks through which so many people are falling these days as we devolve into a ruthless, selfish, terrorizing society are ever widening. And there is no one working to close that gap.
As the financial gap widens between the haves and the have-nots, so does the gap between the civil and the uncivil. When bullying becomes the norm–and we are this close to becoming a bullying society–we will be done as a nation of freedom and personal liberties. When victimization becomes standard treatment and we can no longer distinguish between bullying and standard operating procedure, when people feel that they have the right to bully rather than the right to protect, life as we know it will be over.
Look around you. That time is near.
If you have any suggestions for how to deal with bullying, please feel free to comment. As much as I love being a cave dweller, there are still some battles that are worth leaving my cave to fight.
A Thought to Ponder
See this world as a free world, and see everyone in it as trying through their individual experiences to find their way back to that calling, back to that Source Energy. And even though there are billions of them going about it in a way that is different than you would choose, there’s no right or wrong way. In other words, bless them all, and get on with the only thing you have any power about, which is opening or closing your vortex to your natural state of Well-Being. —Abraham
We should be supporting and assisting each other, not judging and victimizing. The world will be a healthier, happier place when everyone feels supported and loved and accepted and allowed to follow their own path.
Photo by Chris Wood