The bullying we've heard about lately is really getting to a lot of us. A lot of us 50-somethings thought we'd evolved beyond that at this point in time.
In just two months, five young people have ended their lives because of one form of bullying or another. What's really going on?
The Oxford English Dictionary has two primary definitions of "bully" above the one we normally consider as bullying in common parlance: "A blustering 'gallant'; a bravo, hector, or 'swash-buckler'; now, esp. a tyrannical coward who makes himself a terror to the weak."
Let's look a little closer.
A bully is a tyrant.
A bully is a coward.
A bully terrorizes.
Is it only me or does this sound familiar to anybody else?
Have we noticed any tyrants, cowards or terrorists in our public spheres lately?
Gee, I'd have to say that Dick Cheney certainly qualified as a tyrant during the last political regime. Or how about George W. Bush and any of his minions, and their cowardly refusal to take any responsibility for lying to the American public.
And terrorists? How about the pundits of all stripes these days? Think Howard Stern, Bill O'Reilly, even Chris Matthews on occasion.
My friends, for as long as there are tyrants, cowards, and terrorists in public life, young people will take it as license to bully.
For as long as we need scapegoats, there will be those who are scape-goated.
For as long as we refuse to look at our own lives, refuse to own our inner tyrants, inner cowards, and inner terrorists, and the ways in which we each participate in bullying, there will be a license to bully.
Who can stop it?
On a personal level, I can. You can. We can. First, we can refuse to bully. Second, we can refuse to witness bullying of any kind. Third, we can speak up when we see it or hear it.
Who can stop it?
On a public level, anyone who has a platform. I challenge everyone who has a public aspect to their lives to call for an end to bullying, and to make the personal choice to end their own bullying behaviors.
How long would Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh remain on the radio if we simply stopped tuning in to their bullying?
All of us have the capacity to bully; we also have the capacity to stop bullying.
The bully stops here -- when we say so.