a note by Val Haller
Halloween is gone. But this monster lives on.
You might not recognize him. He has so many disguises. He'll trick you. You might be charmed by him at first, lured in. You might feed him, unwittingly, and he'll come back for more. You might join his club accidentally, but claim you're not a member. You probably won't see the signs, this monster is a master...
Our world is filled with monsters: Sandy. Earthquakes. War. Cancer. Poverty. Violence. Hunger. We recognize them. We brace for them. We plan and prepare. We establish organizations and band together to battle them. We put money and research toward them. They're bigger than us. Our hope is to eradicate them.
But the monster I speak of is more elusive. You won't have much warning - he sneaks up on unsuspecting victims. He's usually not provoked. He'll blindside you and he's toxic. In a few seconds he can get under your skin and into your head. He wreaks havoc that can last a lifetime, ruin a soul, divide a community, unravel a school and challenge a government. His venom stings, aches, and can even cause death. Murder and suicide are sometimes a horrifying by-product of his grip. This monster lives in us. He is us. You and me. This monster is called Bully. And I hate him.
We all know one, have fallen victim to one, and probably have been one. I know I have. If you think about it, this monster is unique - and should be so easy to control - if we just would - if we just could. So why can't we? What's the problem?
We know what to do. But when bullying becomes sport, "Just Do It " is easier said than done. Why? Because the cousin of Bully is Ego. I believe that as long as beings are human, ego will get in the way. With the best of intentions - and full understanding of rules and consequences - we still fall - by following. Even the tiniest bullets under the "harmless" list can cut deeply. A repeat of gossip, a cold shoulder, a look, seemingly benign, are not. And passive behavior fuels the fire. Not speaking up, not walking away, not stepping in - seemingly neutral choices, actually make things worse.
The bully will argue that you're too sensitive, that it's you with the problem, defending his actions as unintentional. "I didn't hurt you", "It's not a big deal", "You're making a mountain out of a molehill". Nice try.
But guess what? The bully doesn't get a vote. He doesn't get to decide if he hurt you or not. He doesn't get the final word. The fact is, whatever the victim feels after an encounter, that's the final word.
I am passionately interested in this topic. I've wanted to write about it since I started my blog. I've hated bullies since I was a little girl. Not as victim, but as observer. I'm one of those people who notices everything so I was doomed from the start. My heart ached for the victim on the grade school playground. I watched bully body language, expressions and gestures - one kid dictating inclusion or exclusion. But I didn't step in to help. As I got older I stayed involved and stepped in more. Playground duty as a young mother about killed me. Social interaction is at its most raw on a school playground. Ouch it hurt. Volunteering at the junior high level revealed even more. At this age the bullying gets slicker, more strategic; they hide it better. And parents don't dare step into the picture now - they're afraid to - and their kids won't let them. And if a parent has his owned unresolved issues from childhood experience, it complicates the situation even more - one emotional scar leading another. Not a healthy platform for healing or staying strong.
I was invited as a parent rep into the more inner circle of our large public high school as they started a progressive campaign against bullying - one of the first in the nation. I attended seminars and forums on the subject and I learned a lot. Our school was trying something new, a different approach... Instead of targeting the Bully, our program targeted the more important player, the Onlooker. A blitzkreig of a different kind.
There's an interesting statistic out there. Studies show that something like 30% of people are the bullies and the bullied. 70% are the onlookers. That's where the power is.
But the 70% needs a leader. No one wants to make the first move. Take a baby step:
See a bully? Walk away, take others with you, lead the pack.
Hear a bully? Speak up, counter the comment, buffer it, don't repeat it.
Feel a bully? Get help, find a witness, don't clap and cheer, don't feed him.
Read a bully? Click spam, X out, empty your trash, block that path.
The 70% can feed the bully or starve him. 70% can walk away and shrink his audience. 70% can disagree and embarrass him. 70% can speak up and weaken his soap box. 70% can click delete and end his story.
Bullying campaigns urge the Victim to seek help. 70% of us are the help...
As you head into this holiday season, try something. Make one person's day. One small gesture will do it. Smile. Say hello. Call someone by name. Stick up for somebody. Thank someone. Notice a look. Step in. Reach out. Agree with a new idea. Cut someone a break. Bite your tongue. Wait. Breathe. Think twice. Hug. Listen. You know what to do.
Our music artists are leading the way. They've been telling us what to do in song. They've been showing us what to do as they aid humanity in times of crisis. If you love their music then sing along.
This week's playlist leads with "Bullet and a Target" by Citizen Cope. Listen here.
|Celebrities Speak Out Against Bullying|
|Alanis Morissette "Guardian" - Official Music Video|
Celebrities Speaking Out Against Bullying:
Ellen DeGeneres, Lady GaGa, Myley Cyrus, Jim Carrey, Demi Lovato, Anne Hathaway, Nick Cannon, Mario Lopez, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Daughtry, Elton John, Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Emily Blunt, Donny and Marie, Faith Hill, Kenny Loggins, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Guster, Henry Winkler, John Cusack, Jon Bon Jovi, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, Eva Longoria, Madonna, David Spade, Metallica, Jaden Smith, Anna Kendrick, Jeff Foxworthy, Wanda Sykes, Drew Brees, Justin Bieber, Kelly Osbourne, Selena Gomez, Adam Levine, Adam Lambert, Chris Colfer, Hillary Clinton, Kathy Griffin, Kim Kardashian, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Michael Kors, Nicki Manaj, Neil Patrick Harris, Ke$Ha, Perez Hilton, Tim Gunn, Suze Orman, Michael Buble, Paul McCartney, Nickelback, Rod Stewart, Sugarland, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Radcliffe, Victoria Justice, and more...