What do you want to be when you grow up? If you’re a bully, do you aspire to be a bigger bully? While we sometimes find out about a successful person who was bullied as a child, we don’t usually focus on what happens to a childhood bully in adulthood. Those childhood bullies can grow up to be potentially bigger bullies or world leaders.
We just finished reading the story of the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ whom others attempted to bully, who was abandoned by many of his friends but who refused to give in to the hatred and abuse of others.
When we look to examples of what happens to bullies on the world stage today, we see them continue to perpetrate atrocities with their own people suffering greatly. Consider what is happening in Syria, in North Korea and other areas around the world where human life is not held sacred. History is rife with world-class bullies.
But we don’t have to remain on the world stage or keep bullies at arm’s length since we can find them anyplace in our world. Those who have power over others in the workforce, from CEOs to supervisors can be bullies. We all know at least one somewhere in our careers who did not respect the human dignity of another. They make us uncomfortable because they have some kind of power over others, and they lack respect for people seen as “beneath” them, when in fact, every human being deserves respect and dignity including the person on the lowest social rung possible.
We permit bullies to thrive when we don’t challenge them if they are taking advantage of another. That can be dangerous, either physically or mentally, and it is not recommended without careful consideration of the consequences. While we must act against bullying, we need to do it safely neither jeopardizing the safety of ourselves or, in fact, that of the bully as well.
Most often we hear of bullying in school, sometimes by teachers who belittle students in classrooms as a way to control behavior or, more often on the playground where youngsters are less closely supervised. School can be a scary place if you’re on the receiving end of the bullying. And the reality of cyber bullying is too often reported after something has happened to a young person who was bullied. Cyberspace can be a terrifying place for someone who is vulnerable, someone who seeks the endorsement of his/her peers.
Stopping someone who is intent on harming another is difficult at best. Teaching, and more importantly, demonstrating respect for others plants the seeds that may deter a potential bully from acting out. When we lead with kindness and concern in our daily lives, we have a better chance of making a positive impact in our world and those who are closest to us. We can hope that bullies grow up to be world class citizens, knowing from experience the damage bullies can do, and making every effort to make changes for future generations.