On Bullying…and Bullies.

When I was a kid we had bullies. I was a student at Southfield School. And in 6th grade there was a kid who was bullying me. It just didn’t stop. I tried being nice. I tried keeping quiet. I tried telling the Principal. Nothing worked…until one day I’d had enough. I got to my mom’s car and threw my books in, furious, and I told her “Wait here…I’ve got something to take care of,” and I stormed off. There used to be an old wooden long building out by the field, they used as dressing rooms. I stormed onto the field, looking for this kid, mad as Hell, and I wasn’t going to take it any more. 

Now keep in mind, by the time I was In sixth grade, I was well on my way to 6’4″ and I was taller and weighed more than the bully. He saw me charging at him, looking like an enraged bull at a bull fight. He correctly divined my intention, that I was about to beat him to a bloody pulp. He ran into the boy’s dressing room and barricaded the door. I yelled for him to come out. He wouldn’t. A crowd gathered. I mocked him for not coming out. He still didn’t. Unbeknownst to me, my mom walked up behind me, assessed the situation, and instead of grabbing me and hauling me out of there, she said, “Come on out. I hear you’ve been bullying my son. Come on. Lets see how tough you are. I won’t do anything. I’ll just stand here and watch.” 

The other kids let out a long “Whoaaaaa!” The bully still cowered in the dressing room. My mom said, “Okay. Well, if you’re not coming out, I guess everybody out here knows who’s brave and who’s the chicken!” We left. And he never, EVER bothered me, or any of my friends again. 

Today, we have all sorts of bullies. And bullying has gone hi-tech, with programs like Burnbook, that facilitate and anonymize bullying to an evil art form. Online bullying is different. And unbelievably evil. My daughter was bullied by a couple of girls her own age at Youree Drive Middle School. When I saw her looking at her phone and crying, I took the phone and made screen shots of everything they were texting to her. I emailed the principal, and had her take the screen shots into his office the next day. The reaction from the perpetrators when confronted by the principal was “defiance” – right up until they found out he had screen grabs, and that their parents were in the waiting room next to his office.

But bullies are not limited to the classroom or recess area. They are also in politics and on the world stage.

I would argue that President Obama is a bully. When he doesn’t get his way, he pouts, whines, and then tries to use force to overwhelm his foes. But like most bullies, he doesn’t stop there. Only humiliation and emasculation satisfy bullies. It’s not enough to triumph. They must completely decimate their opponents.

On the world stage, ISIS is the bully du jour, joining such illustrious and infamous bullies as the Nazis in WWII, Japan (also in WWII), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia) the Soviet Communists (U.S.S.R., post WWII), Red Chinese (China), and the “Freedom Fighters” in Central and South America like Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara.

Bullying, it would seem, has gotten out of hand, virtually everywhere today. But I can’t help but think that it’s largely because we’ve evolved (?) into a culture that believes pacifism is holy, and defending ourselves is somehow wrong. Of course, today, if a child defends themselves with their fists, they run the risk of suspension, expulsion, or even a police record. But why? I survived a couple of black eyes and bloody noses in my youth. Why do we need to treat childhood as if it must be “sanitized for their protection”? If a politician defends themselves with the Constitution, the chattering classes cry foul, and brand them with insulting and sexually-perverse monikers. And if we propose standing up to bullies globally, we’re condemned for our insensitivity and lack of compassion for the bullies.

This has got to stop. NOW. 

There have always been bullies. There will always be bullies. But there is ever and always only one way to deal with bullies. You stand up for yourself, and hit back. Hard. With everything you’ve got. Force is a bully’s stock-in-trade. And, coincidentally, it’s the only language they understand. You can dress it up anyway you like it, but until and unless you are willing to defend yourself and give as good or better than you get, you will lose. It is the way of things. It’s time to stop giving in to bullies. And it’s time to stop pretending there is any way to deal with them other than answering their force with force.

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