Some years ago another boy and I exchanged some words and I told him that he didn’t want to make my dial turn the wrong direction.
He told me that it sounded like a stupid thing to say and set about taunting me. I told him I was going to walk away and that he was to leave me alone or he wound find out what happened when you broke my dial.
And then he found out that I wasn’t kidding about what would happen if he did.
People shouldn’t have to say they have been lucky that they and or their children haven’t ever been bullied but we should also be able to say we have never experienced homelessness, hunger or a whole bunch of other situations too.
The thing is what we should be able to say and what we can say are often two different things.
As a father I have been very cognizant of what my children say about how they are treated and who is doing it.
That is not just because my job is to protect them physically but because I want to protect their mental/emotional well being too.
Part of that is making sure that the terms they use to describe what happens to them are accurate. It is why I am very particular and cautious about using a term like bully to describe certain events.
If you were to ask that other boy I mentioned what happened when he pushed me too far you’d find out I am not the kind of person who sits back and takes a whole lot of crap.
It is not because I am a tough guy either, because I am not. But I am not wired to put up with that kind of nonsense either and experience has taught how to deal with most bullies.
The Beauty Of Bullies
It sounds like some sort of misnomer or mistake to say that there is beauty associated with a bully or bullying.
But if you make an effort to find the silver lining in such things you might choose as I have to say it provides you with an opportunity to strip away some of your insecurities and focus on your strengths.
You might say it provides you with a chance to to step outside of your comfort zone and prove something to yourself.
Or you might say that bullying and bullies are just awful and there is no sugar coating it.
How you choose to deal with it is your personal thing, but if you are interested in my way, well those words above are tied into a conversation I had a while back with my son.
And so is the quote below from the movie The Untouchables.
Ness: Anything within the law.
Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.
Ness: I want to get Capone! I don’t know how to do it.
Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?
Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so.
Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward.
[jabs Ness with his hand, and Ness shakes it]
Malone: Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?
Malone: Good, ’cause you just took one.
Don’t Be A Victim
“Don’t be a victim” is the advice I gave him surrounding a situation he encountered in middle school.
“You don’t have to be the cool guy or the toughest kid on the yard. You just have to make sure they understand you are not a sucker and not a victim. It is the same thing as walking down the street, you don’t want people to see you as an easy mark.”
It is not particularly easy to segue from Sean Connery’s talk about taking a blood oath and putting one of theirs into the morgue into how smiling and walking away can be effective too.
But I did my best to help him understand how looking someone in the eye and adding a laugh or blank expression can help with certain situations.
I reiterated more than once that if someone tries to bully you the importance of trying to shut it down early.
And I told him that bullies aren’t always limited to schoolyards or children.
Sometimes they creep out of their little hidey-holes and make appearances at workplaces.
If you can get away with ignoring them and treating them like trolls who hide under bridges and are only seen if acknowledged than that is what you do.
What If You Can’t Ignore Them?
Well, if you can’t ignore them you look back into history and remember that Archimedes said with the right lever he could move the the world.
All you need to do is find that lever.
Adult bullies are particularly sad examples of people to me, much worse than the kid or teenager.
That is because the adult bully is the perfect example of the person who just never grew up, not in the good Peter Pan sense of the word but the pathetic.
Their fear and insecurity is usually far more transparent than they realize.
We Are Who We Choose To Be
The best part about not being 25 anymore is how comfortable I feel saying I don’t know it all because I don’t.
I am not always right and I am not always wrong either and who I am today may not be who I am tomorrow.
We are who we choose to be and bullies, well they just have to live with who they are now don’t they.