Concern with bullying has again attracted attention this week, when Jamey Rodemyer, 14, fell prey to senseless intimidation.
It needs to be pointed out that the young are not the only ones who suffer from bullying, being made to feel unworthy of life, unlovable, and less than others.
Bullying is not necessarily deliberate.
Feelings of being worthless can come about because no one does anything, because no one cares enough to do anything, to help someone else, or even acknowledge their existence. Being lonely is not the problem, we all feel lonely at times, but being isolated and shunned is fraught with anxiety. Feeling that you are without friends, the only one of “your kind,” before you have learned the value of being wonderfully unique, makes you vulnerable to the solitary confinement that bullying creates.
Nothing is more debilitating than thinking you are alone, unwanted, unimportant, and useless.
This happens when people belittle you, when you cannot defend yourself, and when no one takes any notice of you. When you feel that everything you attempt, or offer to others, or have achieved, is ridiculed, or intentionally ignored. Your sense of aloneness follows despair in an endless loop that eventually spirals out of your self control, inviting thoughts of that one last meaningless act. A meaningless act of trying to rebel, to escape, to end the misery, or finally do something that you expect to be acknowledged by others.
It is not always possible to find the ability or the means to end the agony, and so one suffers, exists through it, in a torment of self deprecation that is humourless. Being deliberately deprived of the company of another person is no less a form of intimidation, bullying, and torture that provokes mental anguish and excruciating pain.
“…Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us, time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one centre of pain.”~ This was written by Oscar Wilde whilst in prison from his work De Profundis
Bullying is not merely active intimidation, verbal degradation, or physical abuse; it is denial of another’s worth, even of their existence, of their unique value to life, their achievements. It causes us to circle our lives around what others want us to think of ourselves; that of being worthless and without any redeeming feature.
This is why the concept of sin is so detrimental. Maintaining that sin is inherent in each of us is like hobbling a perfectly good horse.
Even if your religion subscribes to the burden of “original sin” it should never be used to browbeat and bully you, or others, into denying a full and lengthy life. Civilized nations have rejected the penalty of stoning “sinners,” as being outdated barbaric biblical law. It is remarkable that everyone’s sexual expression is still “on the books,” and in the minds of so many people, is sinful or “unnatural.”
In fact, those are the people who need informed counseling to understand that consensual sexual expression is a human right, a perfectly normal and natural human experience. Regarding those experiences as sins or “unnatural,” is outdated and as barbaric as stoning, and as bullying-like as demanding self-flagellation.
Place no value on the words of the cowardly bullies, their dogma of rituals that sacrifice your freedom to think and love, who are the scourge of the scoundrels, teaching hate, instead of celebration of life. They are the ignorant turned to bullies, tyrants who laugh at the torment they inflict on others.
Bullying can heighten any doubts we have about ourselves.
For the young it is a road block to their growth and full development as loving human beings. It causes people in mid-life to sink into depths of depression, eventually to be suspended in an apathetic malaise. To the elderly, the bullying of aloneness is a terrifying tearful denial of their life’s accomplishments, of any appreciation of all they have done for others. Harassment, intimidation, and bullying, whether by physical attack or not acknowledging our existence, strips self-respect from our dying whether infirm, young, or elderly, or any age in between.
The human race is diminished when infants are bashed to death; when bullying causes our youth to destroy itself, or when our attempts to comfort others evaporate uselessly as we are confronted by the despair of the bullied.
Withered and wrinkled, secluded in some dark, soiled room, we may even bully our aged selves with regrets and recriminations, but no one deserves to suffer those pains of life’s anguish at the moment of passing, without at least one loving hand to hold our own with dignity, while we gently weep.
“No thing is isolated entire of itself;
Every thing is part of the universe,
A piece of the all.
If a single cell should cease to be,
The galaxy is the less, as well as if a sun were,
As well as if a dwelling of your friend’s or of your own.
Any death diminishes life,
Because life is involved in living;
And therefore never send to know for whom a tear falls;
It falls for you.”
~ Adaptation from John Donne’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.
No one should be detached from the comfort, love and compassion that defeats bullying; that can help lift us out of the depths of our despair and pain and onto the paths to joy, but it is our own efforts to thoughtfully share our love and empathy that rewards us with the goodness of feeling alive.
No one should be bullied to death; that is a cruel, vicious waste of life.
No one should ever die feeling unloved; that is a human and universal tragedy.
Everyone should have the freedom to love, and be loved. That is the greatest thing we will ever learn.
Someday, someone you love will be eagerly waiting, needing to hear you say, “I love you,” so they can say the same thing to you.
And sorrow that comes out of the depths of bullying makes us all determined to stop the senseless violence.