There was an interesting exchange between Will Cain & Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” earlier this week over the use of language and whether words should be banned or not. Depending on your definition of bullying, I can make an argument that I have been bullied at different times during my whole life and I will give details below but first I need to make a very important side point. We ALL need to be more understanding about the situations people go thru in life and stop trying to demean the opinions of others just because they have not shared the same experiences as us. After all some would question what a white person would know about racism, or a skinny person know about being fat, or a gorgeous person know about being ugly? Everyone of us has a story and different experiences so how about we let them express an opinion before judging them on merit, not on their prior experiences.
We live in a world where politicians and spin doctors spend all day every day trying to divide us all into groups. Why should we help them and further divide people? We need to unite on principles and helping people overcome difficulties should be a principle we can all agree on. So how do we overcome bullying? Well let’s break this down into sections. .
I know this is a question for another longer post but let me ask every American a question. Your Declaration of Independence states, “All men are created equal” – Do you believe this is still the case? Or do you now believe all are created equal, unless you win an election, or are appointed as an unelected bureaucrat, then you have some additional rights where you can impose your will on others?
I would like to share with you the text from the First Amendment,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”
I don’t think the First Amendment could be much clearer. It may not be the case in America in 2014 but no law can super-cede the Constitution therefore no words or speech can be banned regardless of the pain they may or may not potentially cause.
I know some who will have read the first couple of paragraphs may think I am just another heartless person who tells others to suck it up and not moan. They might even think similar thoughts to Whoopi in this clip that I don’t have a prior experience. However nothing could be further from the truth.
My Early Childhood
I have no doubt the vast majority of kids are bullied in some form during the many years we spend in school today but I was bullied A LOT and not only verbally but physically. When I was a kid I was small, chubby, wore glasses, was quiet and a loner (I always had problems mixing with kids my own age). I was bullied everywhere – in class, in the playground at lunchtime or leaving school. It would start with name calling and end up some form of physical beating. The routine was always the same for me especially with the physical beatings, lots of crying, go to the teacher and report it, one of my parents would come, and I would get an apology from the student or students involved and everything went back to normal… until the next time.
Late Childhood / Early Teens
During this time I found out that school is only good for 3 things…. Being super smart, being popular and be sporty and sometimes you needed 2 out of 3. I was never smart, never popular and while I loved sports and would play them all day, I usually sucked at them hence why I was picked last i.e. I was the kid you got, never the one you picked. One day an adult friend of the family offered to take me to the gym and I saw a new world. I trained and while I never really lost weight, I increased my strength and size, gained confidence learning to box and got a point where thankfully physical bullying was never an issue again for me. However that didn’t mean the bullying stopped…. It just matured. As kids got older, they got more “educated” which turned into new ways of insulting me. This went on for years as I learned there was no way to stop it so eventually you just get used to it.
Fast forward to today and I could make an argument I am still bullied. Just look at me and what I stand for and you can imagine the things I get called so let me give you a few (in particular order):
- Since looks are paramount in today’s society, let’s start there – I am a big guy who is ugly, fat, has a receding hairline and bald patches.
- I am a devout Christian and a huge supporter of God’s country Israel.
- I am a huge supporter of the U.S Army (side point: It really is sad how many American citizens who think your army are terrorists).
- I am Irish (I am supposed to be jolly and drunk all day long – I rarely drink).
- While I have completed some college courses, I do not hold a degree and I know plenty of people look down on that and think I am not in the same league as they are.
- Because of my political beliefs I am called a wacko bird, a terrorist, a right wing nut job, an extremist or something along those lines regularly.
- I live in the Irish state of Utopia which makes loving America, defending your Constitution, encouraging freedom, free market capitalism and individual rights and responsibilities very unpopular.
However I am extremely fortunate because I have great faith in GOD and only he can judge me, making those comments irrelevant. However that does not mean they do not hurt – so what is the solution?
There is no easy answer but I can safely say it does not involve politicians, banning words or fake apologies. If you start banning words, where does it stop? Let me give you an example. What if I got offended every time someone called me fat and started a campaign to ban the word fat? What happened if people started using the word obese and that offended someone else and they tried to ban that word? This process could on forever with the banning of words such as big, over-weight and the plenty of other ways you can say fat?
So we can spend our time banning words or we can spend our time getting to the root of the problem which will require a lot of time, work and patience from everyone. We need to spend our time empowering the individual being bullied and help them get to a point where those comments mean nothing and where they can laugh them off (this is not an easy process) and continue with their daily lives. We also have a responsibility to offer lots of love and support as a friend, as a family member or a member of a Church or community to play our part in ensuring that person is loved in their own right and to help them focus on the positive words instead of the negative ones. We all need to do a better job standing up to bullies together and ensure they know that they will never hurt or beat us.
Finally, we must remember the aim here has to be the full empowerment of the individual and to rise above the hate and NOT to push others down by enslaving, belittling or stripping them of their individual God-given rights.