The past couple of weeks has seen the issue of bullying spread across social media and talked about by students, teachers, parents, and even governments. And though this focus on the problem generates conversation and awareness, I am still left with the feeling that it is not being dealt with systemically.
I see bullying around me every day. I have experienced bullying in my life, and have watched my kids as they have moved from elementary school into high school and all that this transition entails; often hard and sometimes traumatic as the memories they have of being bullied are still with them today.
But we live in a world where our mindset is such that our beliefs—those views that we think make up who we are—are in some way superior to the “other.” We teach our children to express their beliefs, to stand up for what they think is right, to be bold, to not let the world stand in their way.
And while this is positive on many levels, it has its negative connotations as well, at least as far as I am concerned.
Where do we teach our kids about compassion? Sure, this is more and more prevalent in school settings, or after kids have demonstrated behaviour that others might feel needs reprimanding. But what happens behind closed doors? Unless the incident was somehow tragic I’m willing to bet that most parents tend to support their children in their views and make them feel justified in their actions. I know I am guilty of this. After all, our children can do no wrong, and they more than likely formed their opinions based on our beliefs.
But what does this create later on in life? What does it teach our children to be when they grow up? I think in many cases, it teaches them to assert themselves in such a manner that they are still the bully on the playground. Whether it’s a boss in a workplace asserting his or her power over an employee, or a politician asserting his or her private beliefs into the political system, it is still bullying and keeps us separate from the each other.
In my view, this lack of ability to have compassion for the other’s point of view is the root of much of the strife that plagues the world today.