Thank Heavens for Bullies. We need them.
© Al Turtle 2005
Sometimes people get the impression that I want all bullies to go away. But I really think they are valuable. Where would we all be without them? Now, what am I talking about?
First let me define a bully. A bully is a person who wants their way, and if they don’t get it they make other people unhappy.
Babies are good examples of bullies. At birth, if you don’t feed them, etc., they find the just-right pitch of crying, wailing, yelling, that gets you to perform.
A frightening number of children and teenagers act like bullies. In many ways bullies are just children who threw or are throwing tantrums and are getting away with it.
People with short tempers tend to be bullies. Anyone who argues is a bully. Arguing is usually the act of two bullies. Arguing is the act of trying to have your point of view accepted by the other and to get others to shut up about their point of view. And arguing is a pretty obnoxious behavior – full of two Punishment Systems going full blast. (See my paper on Master/Slave) Thus a bully is a person who has unpleasant behavior at their finger tips and is trying to push others around.
I have frequently met a person in business who gets "emotional" when he/she doesn't get his way and everyone else gives into them. I believe the books on Business Management call a person who does this a tyrant. Tyrant, bully, Master…. all the same thing.
Hey, I think Saddam Hussein was a bully. But then is the U.S. a bully? And who’s the bigger bully.
If you look at my paper on Peace Building, you may see that I believe that there are two options: a) move toward war by acting bullyish with people who disagree with you or by encouraging people to act bullyish by keeping quiet about differences, or b) move toward peace by standing up for sharing different points of view.
The current climate in most families, on TV, and in politics seems to me all about arguing, and suppressing other points of view. “I’m right. You shut up, idiot!” To me this is all about moving toward war. TV commentary and radio talkshows particularly seems to me a wasteland of bullies.
Every time I see a couple where domestic violence occurred, I am used to the idea that probably at least one partner has been having tantrums since they were a kid. They are still doing it since they have been surrounded by people who rewarded them for having tantrums – by "giving in". And I am used to the idea that the other partner has learned really well how to "give in" to tantrums, thus encouraging more tantrums. The problem, I believe, will not be fixed until one partner knows how to self-regulate themselves out of a tantrum condition and the other partner knows how to not permit their partner to have a tantrum. I think it really takes two to solve this problem.
Someone told me the other day, that I should be Republican because that is the party that supports the military and I was in the Navy. I laughed.
I went to war (VietNam) and risked my life so that people in this country could disagree freely and safely. I fought so that people could have peace while they expressed their own point of view. I did not fight for one Party to win. To me that would have been exactly what I was fighting against. I was ready to give my life so that it was safe for me to have my own point of view, and safe for you to have yours. I fought for the ALCU, for the Republicans, for the Unitarians, for the Quakers, for the Baptists, etc. I felt/feel a strong sense of honor (self-respect) in so doing. I fought for the peace makers.
Now my experience is that many, if not most, peace makers appear passive.
I want to say that I believe that making peace takes guts. I think it is easier to follow what people tell you to do, than to stand up for what you believe or to support others to stand up for they believe. I think peace making takes guts, strength and a lot of toughness. If you want Peace, you have to build muscles – the strong skills of standing up for “getting along”. You have to get tough.
Recently I met a friend who had attended a national conference on peace making. He told me that everyone there seemed a bully – a lot of yelling and arguing. That too is my experience. The very people who want peace are ones who, by their actions, are promoting war. Kind of like a mother hitting her son to stop him from hitting his brother. Kind of dumb.
And I believe bullies help. They give us something to practice our firm resolve upon. We get chances, up front and real, to practice being tough for peace without becoming a bully ourselves. We get to stand up for peace, right in their faces. And I believe we all should learn how to peacefully, and firmly, handle bullies. We learn how to not let bullies get away with it, and we can enjoy retraining people out of the habits of throwing tantrums when they don't get their way. I love teaching this. (I call it "being Dialogical" or "facilitating Communologue".)
So thanks to all the bullies we all can practice with. And thanks for all the military men and women who put their lives in harms way, so that even bullies can live in peace.