Our bullying culture

I had a truly horrible meeting the other day.  I was feeling vulnerable anyway after some open psyche surgery following a long talk with my counsellor.  I turned up to the meeting expecting a simple logistics discussion but instead was confronted by a smug human wall as the ring leader weighed in with a personal attack that came right out of left field.

I defended myself calmly and with composure while inwardly reeling from the blows.  But the following day the grief hit me – why had these people been so horrible to me?

Playground bullying exists not just for the children but by the parents who play favourites both with other parents and their children.  Who refuse to invite all the children to birthday parties, instead ensuring that some children feel left out when the birthday person and invitees talk up their party experiences for the next few days at school.

And then there is the whole facebook thing which is bullying by its very nature – how many ‘friends’ or ‘likes’ do you have or want?  Where your popularity is on public display and your online identity makes it even easier for bullies to attack you from behind the safety of their LCD screens.

The big corporates and supermarket duopoly bully their suppliers and then their customers to buy their home branded produce which in turn puts smaller suppliers out of business.

In Australia we have had 4 years of Abbott and his cohorts mercilessly bullying Julia Gillard and the Labour/Green/Independent Alliance.  All sides of Government bully the electorate – we won’t let you have any money if you don’t vaccinate your children, we will force you to drink fluoridated water whether you want to or not, we will let mining companies frack and mine agricultural areas despite your opposition . . .  you get the picture.

And we see an increasing amount of alcohol and drug fuelled violence against innocent bystanders.

Parents bully their children daily in order to coerce them into following orders.  We’re all guilty of some level of bullying.  I know I am.  And it is really hard work changing a lifetime’s actions and reactions and learning a new way to deal with other people – I am such a beginner at Non Violent Communication and Peaceful Parenting but at least I am filling my head and heart with alternative ways of being so I can slowly change myself.

The horrors that I sunk to after last week’s experience also reminded me how susceptible children are to our emotional dumps on them when we are tired, stressed and low on energy and emotional resilience.  The energy and words which always accompany an attack lodge deep within the soul and psyche and take a lot of work to incise out, forgive and heal from.  Children, and most adults, don’t have the have the skills to work through these emotions, and instead ignore or obviate them with alcohol, food or some other self medication.

Children throw inexplicable tantrums or lodge their resultant emotions deep in their bodies where they will rest until some adult stress triggers an explosion.

How do we change this culture?  By stopping bullying our children so one day there will be adults who don’t then bully their employees, clients, children etc.  By voting for political parties who don’t bully (good luck there!), by not buying newspapers and magazines which bully or engage in ‘tall poppy’ activities, turning off facebook and Big Brother style so called ‘reality TV’ and by watching what we say and do and how we engage with others . . .

It all seems too hard sometimes . . . but changing ourselves is our primary responsibility and hoping that the ripples will spread out from our families and into the wider world . . .

Meanwhile I need to learn how to protect myself from bullying by others so I don’t have to endure the depression and suicidal thoughts triggered by last week’s episode  . . . I sunk straight into ‘nobody likes me, everybody hates me . . . ‘  Apparently I look so tough, strong, brave and resilient to outsiders, but you and those closest to me know that I am like a hedgehog or echidna – sharp prickles all over the outside, but marshmallow softness underneath.  Foolishly I had exposed my underbelly by trusting these playground bullies – I have to get cleverer at knowing who I can trust and not rolling over until I know I am safe . . .

Life is a constant learning process isn’t it?

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