Friday, November 02, 2012


With so much attention focused on bullying these days, I’ve been wondering what kind of talk would give me hope if I were being bullied. Of course, if I were being bullied, the bullying would probably have been going on for some time, and I would likely have already tried a number of things. I might have tried telling the bullies to stop, or ignoring them, or telling somebody about it. I might even have tried moving away. And having tried these things and found them to be ineffective would definitely have sucked out a lot of my hope. I might even be feeling that I should give up because the situation is hopeless. Now all of us know that hope is power. People who have hope are active. They look for options. If there’s one thing all bullying victims lack, it is certainly power. So if I were being bullied, and I told you about it, what could you say to me that would give me hope? You could say, “I believe that what they are doing to you is absolutely wrong!” You might not say that because you’d think I already know you believe it’s wrong. But if I were being bullied, I’d probably think it was my fault, and I’d be wondering if the bullies were right. I’d need to hear what you believe. I’d need to hear it more than once. You could say, “The human race hasn’t figured out how to stop bullying yet, so we have to work hard at finding solutions.” If you said that, you’d be hinting that the human race might just solve this problem some day. Even if I didn’t think you could solve my problem right now, the idea that you had a vision of solving it could give me hope. You could say, “I know you feel terrible now, but your life will be a lot happier when they stop bullying you.” That would give me hope, because it would show me that you can see a time when they will stop. If I were being bullied, I wouldn’t be able to see that time on my own. Most important of all, you could say, “I will help you deal with this. I will stick by you even if it goes on for a while before we find a solution. I will be your friend. I will not give up. You can count on me.” If I were being bullied, and you talked this kind of language to me, I might just keep on hoping. I might just keep on trying. Both of us would be stronger, more committed to getting something done. Both of us would have more hope. Both of us would have more power. If there’s one thing that scares off a bully, it’s knowing that other people have power. (This article was first published in the Edmonton Examiner, 24/10/2012)

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