My Dad explained to me, many years ago that the way life worked was:
Dad gets bullied at work, so comes home and beats up or yells at Mom, who passes the beating onto the oldest child, who sends the beating down the line in descending age order, the kids to the dog to the cat to the birds, who then poop on Dad’s car which starts the cycle over.
We are often told that people who abuse were abused, as if it absolves them or makes their abuses comprehensible. I tend to beleive that people who have been abused are less likely to abuse others, partly because they know what it feels like too well and partly because it’s harder to cast off that victim role. But, to any rule, there’s exceptions and while claiming childhood abuse is a boilerplate defense lawyer tactic, it will on occasion be true. But it’s still not a mitigating factor and should probably be considered an aggravating one.
It makes sense in the same counter intuitive way that men who are politically or religiously powerful are the ones who most likely seek out dominatrix’s to dominate them in the sexual arena or who are caught with regular sex workers or in adulterous and often gay affairs, financial scandals and other activities at odds with their powerful persona. Being powerful or righteous in public leads to submission and participation in what you are publically against in private.
So a person who seeks to bully others at work or school are likely powerless in their private life, at the mercy of another bigger bully; so being bullied on one arena in life results in a power balance restoration of being a bully in another arena of life.
So the real question is, why do some people who are bullied not become bullies in other arenas, and instead, stand up against the bully?
By refusing to allow the bully to diminish or undermine your sense of power, you do not need to seek compensation for its loss by bullying somewhere and someone else – you hold onto your power and face down the bully.
The education and understanding that we need to teach is that bullies should not be feared, if anything, they should be pitied – compassionately if at a young age and less so for adult bullies who have been able to refine their bully tactics for far too long and with much human wreckage in their wake.
Children are less capable actors than adults and being a threatening, intimidating and undermining people is something that any adult is capable of reasoning out is not acceptable behaviour and that they are not children who think they are the centre of the universe and above all mortals and mortal law.
Adults should know better than to feel entitled to impose their will over other people and should know that respect is earned not bestowed, and that the responsibility of any power is to not abuse the trust that comes with power. We have a reason to expect that people put in a position of power, will not use the power for their own ends, but for the group that they are leading.
Too often, managers are hired for financial rather than people skills, and while it’s true that nothing united people like having a common enemy, it does not serve any interests for a workplace team to be united against the manager or any member of the team.
It only serves the individual interests of the one who sets the group against the other, to create a power struggle so they can feel powerful, when they have no power save from the position that they tenuously occupy and have clearly not deserved.
So, if we really want to end bullying in schools at work and in life generally, then each of us has to take the responsibility to stand against bullies and resist the harmonizing urge and become a bully elsewhere.
And, we have to stand against any bullying, whether directed at us or another person – for the hangman or bully can only do what bystanders allow them to do.
And the first thing that we must not allow them to do, is assert dominance and remove the sense of equality between the parties. Abuse has the effect of nullifying the equality between the parties because if people were meaningful equal, then neither has the right or even ability to smack down the other – especially without consequences and worse, to do so from within a systemic framework which protects the abusers rather than those that they abuse.
The abuser does not view their victims as equal to themselves and feels entitled to use whatever means necessary to assert dominance and the trauma of being or reduced – callous and even craven indifference – results in the victim’s being unable to re-assert equality status. Victims reach a point of being so exhausted by fending off, that they can no longer defend themselves, and merely maintaining takes all the effort previously needed for defense.
Which is why a “good defense is a strong offense” is a high cost option.
And that is the cost of fighting the good fight.
Otherwise, all we have is news of people who have taken their lives to escape the endless onslaught of bullies or who have returned to the school or workplace and taken out the bullies and bystanders before taking their own lives or suiciding by cop.
We need to stand together and say no more to bullies of any age and characteristics, no more victims of bullies, intolerance, discrimination, harrassment.
Because with all the legislation about equality and human rights, with all the workplace and school policies, we have only turned bullies into more sophisticated destroyers. Abusers already operate in ways that leave few traces of evidence and rarely occurs in sight of witnesses, so it’s not much harder for bullies to cover their reasons for bullying and making it that much harder for their victims to connect the behavior to discriminatory attitudes against women, gays, ethnicity, beliefs or other prohibited factors while leaving body size, appearance and many other factors not prohibited by human rights legislation.
I can’t help but think that bullying has gone far beyond the merely stronger vs the weaker, but has taken on a new dimension as a backlash against not being publically able to discriminate against groups of people, so intolerance becomes a one on one crusade, one victim at a time.
Bullies can only do what we collectively allow them to do and we have to stop them from driving children, teens and adults to ending their lives as the only means of escaping the bullies.
That’s the only way it can be better, we have to stop the bullies.
Callout to Whereismyreallife for this related video share:
Religious believers are a curious bunch who spend a lot of energy propping up their beliefs with word games, fallacious logic and outright cognitive dissonance in their rejection of reality.
Believers assert that prayer works and that all prayers are answered, but sometimes (imagine sad face here), sometimes the answer is no.
So a god who is capable of poofing the universe into existence and requires no cause for itself, is going to consistently respond with a “no” to the prayers of starving children, cancer ridden children, amputees and paraplegics? This all powerful god is going to say “no” to abducted children being tortured and raped for years or just for a while before they are murdered and left in a shallow grave? “No” to the altar boys?
Is god too busy saying “yes” to sports teams? “Yes” to companies that produce the tools of war, “yes” to young and able bodied men and women to enter the field of battle only to be removed in whole or in parts in body bags?
Yet believers ask that us non-believers accept that their god is good and kind and loving and always answers prayers and then don’t bother to downplay that failing to accept and worship – and correctly, mind you, the correct kind that the particular believer does, not how believers of the 38,000 other versions of Christianity and let’s not mention other religions at all worship – failure to worship means eternal hell and torment.
At this juncture, it is difficult to discern if the believer’s face is damp with tears of despair over your hell fate or drool of anticipation, since, after all, heaven is an exclusive club and it’s not fun having eternal bliss unless others are not merely denied said bliss, but are actively tortured.
I do wonder though, given the exquisiteness of that very fine line between pleasure and pain, that heaven and hell couldn’t been seen as one and the same – after a time, bliss would become mind boggling boring, torturous even and after a time, pain levels off and becomes manageable, in order to understand either, you have to switch between them; you can’t really identify a thing in isolation of all other factors, pleasure and pain are best understood in conjunction or alternating, and eventually, they are indistinguishable.
So, the Abrahamic god is either non-existent, in which case, the world is as we expect it to be and prayers are meaningless.
Or the Abrahamic god exists but is callous, disinterest at best or cruel, vainglorious and evil at worst, in which case, prayers are ignored or answered no, and again, the world is as we expect it to be but prayers to such a deity are pointless.
Or the Abrahamic god exists but is a confused, demented, absent minded, in which case, most prayers are ignored or answered no and the handful that are answered with a yes are of such small impact with such a low bar for attainment, as to be meaningless – because winning a sports game versus thousands of children dying from malnutrition every day – that’s a god who can’t prioritize or is – well – makes sense if god’s a cat god and we’re just it’s playthings.
In any event, the Abrahamic god of Judaism, Islam and Christianity is a jealous, insecure, violent and cruel – and nothing worth worshipping.
So that the believers of Islam and Christianity continue to spread the word by the sword and threats of damnation and violence is not surprising, given their role model. Jews, being confident in their being the chosen ones, aren’t interested in recruiting; to be chosen, you have to be born to it.
Which probably explains why Christians and Islamists bicker so much, killing each other and shouting, “Hey god, look at me, I dispatched an infidel/heathen, pick me pick me.”
Christians and Islamic people are the toadies to god’s bully.
As such, they are carrying out the spreading of the word with the sword in countries where they can openly get away with it, and by terrorists actions in countries where they cannot openly operate – such as shooting abortion doctors, bombing abortion clinics, suicide bombing in public areas and checkpoints.
I guess they have to go out with a bang to announce their arrive to their god, who must be quite deaf by now from all the sword clashing, weapon firing and bombs detonating in praise of god.
Not all believers are willing to suicide their way to martyrdom and some are even squeamish about shooting doctors, so they take out their violent tendencies with a veneer of civilized conduct – and head out to the voting booth to vote against equal rights for gays and lesbians, contribute to campaigns that uphold Christian values and ignore that abstinence seems to only speed the deflowering of virgins and increase the number of pregnant teenagers, as well as support the continued spread of AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases, basically ensuring that woman in other nations will never achieve any measure of personal sovereignty and control over her own reproduction.
And the squeamish believers pray. They pray for the people they don’t like to be smitten, smote, smoted? smotten? punished – and nothing happens to these people that they have identified to their god as deserving of punishment.
How dare those gays and lesbians just go ahead and form families, be all university educated and make more money than decent god-fearing people. And those angry at god atheists and smug humanists and damn free thinkers, educated elite smug bastards deserve a comeuppance – but, the uppance doesn’t come.
Does the believer accept their prayer was answered with a no? Hell no. They set about to activity punish people now on earth – whether they think they are softening us up for hell, or just like regular toadies, want to feel like they are the big bully – so they kick at the non-believers and/or the perverts to give a taste of what’s to come, to make themselves feel the glory and power of god working through them and they sally forth and smite away.
Voting against equal rights, burning crosses on lawns, shooting abortion doctors, dragging people for miles behind their pick up trucks, suicide bombing, gay bashing, protesting and threatening abortion clinic staff and clients, performing exorcisms to pray away the gay, to threaten, abuse and attack both physically and psychologically – and to declare victory over the dead bodies of teens and young adults who have committed suicide than face a life and a world that they would have to share with these god toadies turned representative bullies on earth.
Because clearly, when god answers a prayer for something good with silence, it means no, but when god answers a prayer for retribution and destruction with silence, it means sally forth and do it in my name.
This is supposed to be compelling evidence of god’s love – that god’s people will deny us equal rights, attack us on every front, and revel in our hurts and deaths. Perhaps this is an insight into what kind of place heaven and hell is – for it is here and now – for believers, getting to do what they want to who, without fear of consequences is heaven – and what they want is to make life hell for those of us who do not share their delusion, religion.
Now, there are moderate believers who can refrain from violence, but that’s more to their being good people, with a connection to the community, to having lives, families and friends, economic participation – they have something to lose – so they refrain from criminal actions that would make them subject to human law – besides all the hellfire stuff isn’t real to them, they cheery pick an easier going version of religion, one that does not make demands of them, and allows them to just be as they are with a thin veneer of religion to give them hope that they won’t really die.
Moderates of a religion are really no different than a person who takes bits and pieces from a range of religions and customizes one for their self. Moderates are not believers in a religion, Moderates are people who have taken bits from and forged their own religion, to suit their needs.
Because pure religion has clearly failed to provide framework for guiding and maintaining moral conduct as it is understood today. The Bible was written by people in the bronze age, and these were far more violent times and the violence was not only acceptable, but expected. After the fall of the Roman empire, the middle east was as the wild west – lawless with no comprehensive system of law or justice, it was a period of might makes right. This is not a workable practice in the modern world, which has a system of interrelated laws, not only within each nation, but also governing each nation’s relationships.
Science has replaced religion as the framework to understand the world and ourselves.
International Secular Law, and the rule of law in Democratic nations has replaces religion as the framework to govern our interactions with each other.
Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology has replaced religion as a means to understanding ourselves individually.
This leaves religion in a very precarious place of being all tarted up and nowhere to go – the gaps are filling, the needs are changing, and religion no longer provides a workable framework for guiding behaviour – how many more riots over cartoons and art displays, how many more children have to step forward to identify their abuser priests, how many more religious leaders have to be exposed as adulterers, embezzlers, or closeted gay adulterers, how much more suicide bombers and inter-religious violence of not being able to get along with even members of the same religion, when sitting on the floor vs sitting on the chairs results in the police being called in to break up the Sheikh service? Recently, the KKK protested the Westborough Church for picketing at Arlington Cemetery – the hate groups are turning on each other!
It’s said that it’s a poor operator who blames the tools, but at some point, you have to step back and evaluate – are you using the right tools? Are these tools able to get the job done?
Religion does not provide a framework to live a moral life or to work and play well with others.
Religion is a tool to control the masses of people to accept their poverty or bad events as their own fault, to bring money into the coffers of the temple and allow the leadership to live an extravagant lifestyle, which given the adultery and embezzlement scandals, even this semi-honestly achieved opulence isn’t ever going to be enough and they soon become as decadent as the money changers that were ousted from the temple, according to the story, anyway.
So yes, at some point, the system and not the operator, has to be blamed for allowing the abuses to flourish, because the system has no means to self correct or even enforce itself.
Because any religious leader, no matter how many children he raped, or adult women or men he had sex with, no matter how much money he squirreled away, or drugs or debauchery – the get out of hell free card is the quality and public repentance. Repent and be forgiven.
Repent does not restore the children’s innocence and the lack of consequences means that the children grow up unable to ever trust authority – repentance is too often, I am sorry I got caught, I am sorry that you got hurt – and few seem to notice that these fall far short of “I am sorry that I did this to you.”
It is only in taking responsibility for your harmful actions that you can be forgiven – and forgiveness starts with the person you harmed, not forgiving yourself or thinking your god forgives you after a few ritual words and gestures.
The healing cannot being for the victim, until the wrong done them is acknowledged and responsibility/liability for it accepted. No healing is deserved for the victimizer without any healing for the victim, otherwise, the hurt remains and festers.
Believers clearly need something other than religion, for it has failed to give them the moral guidance to be able to work and play well, responsibility and fairly with others.
How to tell the difference between a victim and a victimizer in one easy question: which one is ashamed? Because that’s who the victim is.