"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Monday, August 15, 2011

"BULLY" Pulpit

Intimidate: to make timid; fill with fear.

The term "bully pulpit" was first used by our countries 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. TR used this term to describe his views of the Presidency when he stated: "I suppose my critics will call that preaching, but I have got such a bully pulpit!" The term bully was an adjective in the vernacular of the time meaning first-rate.

The interesting fact about the word "bully" is that in the beginning the connotation was one of a positive nature.

The word bully is related to the Dutch boel, meaning lover, and is also found in the German word Nebenbuhler, meaning a rival for a lady's affection, but my have times, and connotations, changed. Today "bully pulpit" conjures up negative thoughts as one thinks of a President trying to use his forum to strong arm the people into supporting his agenda. And as the term "bully pulpit" is still used today to describe the president's power to influence the public, it was in the early 1700's that the word began to shift in its meaning. In the early 18th century "bully" came to be similar to the word "pimp" in the English language, which gave "it" the connotation of a ruffian or harasser, and thus began its negative view in the public's eye.

Webster defines bully as a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.

And though President Roosevelt and the people of his time would be amused with Webster's definition there are many school age children and families that have had their lives changed, reduced and even ruined because of it. 

When I think of the term bully three things immediately come to mind: (1) I don't think I can ever comprehend the fear, devastation and loneliness a child experiences when they're being bullied everyday at school. (2) I never experienced any real forms of bullying as a child, nor have I had to deal with any substantial form of bullying where it pertains to any of my children and (3) the "Golden Rule" found in Luke 6:31; "Do to others as you would have them do to you."

I realize my thoughts ring somewhat hollow and are irrelevant when it comes to one who has been confronted with bullying as a child or parent. 

Bullying can be devastating.

Let me rephrase that; bullying is devastating.

It can leave a lasting impression on anyone that has endured this poor treatment committed by another. 

Either your part of the problem or part of the solution.

So it was because of a facebook post, and quite frankly my own poor behavior, that I began to look deeper into the poor behavior of bullying and why a person is compelled to commit the act in the first place.

Let me share.

During my reflection on this disturbing and devastating topic I was reminded of the many mindless tragedies that our country's school system has seen as this phenomenon has grown to embarrassing levels. There have been children that have lost their lives and parents that have lost their children.

And for what? 

The answer is nothing.

Nobody wins in the arena of bullying.

Bullying is about three things: insensitivity, insecurity and incorrect behavior. 

Insensitivity is a byproduct of arrogance.

Show me a bully and I will show you an arrogant person. Whether it is a high school student, a manager at the workplace, or a neighbor, arrogance is always the cause of insensitive and rude behavior. People often feel empowered when they buy into the poor thinking that they are better than another person. No one, and I mean no one, is better than another human being. One person might make better decisions than another, have more money and reside in a better zip code than another, but that still isn't enough to appoint one self better than another. Contrary to popular belief, we were all created equal. I know that phrase is often said, but many people don't behave as if they know it to be true.

Insecurity is a byproduct of the fear of not being accepted. 

Most people, if not all, have the fear of not being accepted. Bullies are no different. The irony is bullies fear being on the outside looking in. They realize that life many times can be more exclusive than inclusive. Webster defines insecurity this way: subject to fears, doubts, etc.; not self-confident or assured. In the end, the bully is as fearful as the one that he/she is bullying. A bully is fearful of not being accepted and valued, and at the end of the day, a bully finds their circle of so called friends not because of admiration and respect, but because of fear. Fear is the common denominator for everyone involved when there is bullying going on.

Incorrect behavior: 
Incorrect behavior in the form of bullying is a byproduct of anger.

Not only is a bully arrogant and fearful, they're also angry with intimidation being the main goal in every instance of bullying. The anger felt by most antagonists stem from the poor treatment or neglect they often experience at home. Many times a bully has experienced the same treatment at home from a parent, step-parent; sibling, step-sibling or neighbor that they display at school. In many instances the child has observed this overbearing conduct in the home from their parents, and as we all know, kids tend to repeat what they see at home. And if the child has never seen this behavior in the home, but is routinely acting in this manner outside of the home, then his/her parents are neglecting their duty as parents if they don't abruptly end this deplorable conduct. Parents are responsible for stopping this behavior that their child is committing away from the home. When this issue is brought to their attention they must take a strong stance and end it immediately. The message at home must always be: bullying is not an acceptable form of behavior under any circumstance; now or at any time in the foreseeable future. For those keeping score at home, I have now used the word home ten times in this last paragraph, the reason being I wanted to drive home that all behavior, good and bad, starts at home. Now I have used it twelve times. I hope everyone gets my point.

 Everything starts in the home... everything.

I mentioned earlier that a facebook post that I received last week was part and parcel of why I choose to write this piece. A dear high school friend of mine, Jeannie Whitt Kerbler, posted these words on facebook last week:
"Special request to all you kids returning to school in the next few days: If you see someone who is struggling to make friends or being bullied because he/she doesn't have many friends or because they are shy or not as pretty or not dressed in the most "in" clothes -- PLEASE step up. Say hi or at least smile at them in the hallway. You never know what that person might be facing outside of school. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone's life!"
Facebook is at it's best when we share and care... I know, I know... very corny, but very true.

Those words were thoughtful; those words were sensitive and displayed a caring heart.

Those words were beautiful.

Those words were powerful.

I purposely didn't want to share a lot of statistics concerning bullying nor did I want to quote Scripture and verse, after Scripture and verse, on how we should treat each other. 

Everyone knows without a shadow of a doubt how we are to treat one another.

Finally, I mentioned earlier that Jeannie's FB post was one of the reasons for my reflections on bullying these past couple of days. The other was my own poor behavior; past and present. Last week I realized that I can still be, as in the past, a bully. There were times that I bullied my two oldest sons into doing what I thought needed to be done. There were times I even bullied my two youngest boys into doing, wearing, acting and speaking the way I wanted them to. There have been times in the past I bullied my mother, sister, ex-wives, friends and my current wife into doing what I wanted. And though I was never violent or abusive, I was manipulating

Manipulation is a form of bullying. 

Manipulation is a byproduct of control. 

Reflecting on my own words I realized I was insensitive because I was arrogant to think that my needs trumped everyone else's needs. 

I was insecure because I needed everything go my way and if I didn't get what I wanted I perceived myself as a failure or in some way weak, because successful and strong people always get what they want... right? I also realized that my behavior was poor because of my anger when I didn't get my way.

In a word I was immature; I behaved like a child.

I have come to the conclusion over the past few years, and days, that God didn't intend for me, nor does He want me to be, in control of everything. Quite frankly God doesn't want me to have control in some situations for the simple reason I shouldn't be involved in those situations in the first place. The key point here is to be reminded that He is in control of everything.


Either you believe that or you don't.

So whether it is bullying that we are dealing with in or outside the home, or that we are displaying a form of bullying disguised as manipulation in our lives, the key point to remember is that it doesn't have to be so.

If our child is being bullied we can step in and take every measure to end it.

If our child is doing the bullying, we as parents can, and must, stop that behavior immediately even if drastic steps are needed to be taken.

And finally, if we our self are being bossy, controlling; being manipulating with ultimate control being the end goal, we can stop that to.

The choice is ours.

Either you believe that or you don't.

sbb 15.8.11

1 comment:

Erica DiPaolo said...

Another wonderful posts and beautiful words. Thank you, Shawn!