Who’s The Bully Now?

A few weeks ago I wrote about compassion (see Where Does Compassion Fit?).  That post came from a number of issues including subjects that were being discussed by other bloggers, as well as a slowly developing personal belief about how I treat others.  Several issues came up from the comments to that post, as well as from that which I have been reading about in various places.  So I need to return, in some way, to the subject or I will never get to sleep at night…

I was about nine and sitting on the outside fire-escape stairs at school one afternoon.  The class bully (M) came and sat down next to me.  She wanted the watch I was wearing.  This watch was a gift from my grandmother, who had gifted three of her old watches to her three grand daughters.  The watch was probably about 70 years old at that stage.  It was gold and was very precious to me.  M pulled the watch (on my wrist) towards her and then suddenly let go.  Naturally my arm flew back into the brick wall I was sitting next to.  The glass on the watch smashed as it hit the bricks.  M seemed happy with what she had done but left me in tears.

That afternoon when I got home I went in search of my Dad.  I found him in the church (he was the minister and so the church was next door to our home).  Dad took me on his knee as I told him what happened.  I told him I wanted to get M back.  I don’t remember the whole conversation but I do remember what he told me about revenge.  “Two wrongs don’t make a right” he said.  I wasn’t going to fix the matter by trying to hurt the bully back.

Something that struck me in that last post on compassion, is that for many people they hold in their heads the idea that there are a some people who don’t deserve compassion. “They’re not human beings, they’re monsters“.  I struggle with that one because I believe that those ‘monsters‘ (a human being is never a monster in my mind) are simply people who have been on a different journey.  And who am I to judge someone else’s journey?

I’m not saying that if people have done harm and maybe have some criminal issue to address, that they shouldn’t be held accountable.  I’m not saying if they have hurt me, then I don’t have the right to be angry and hurt.  I’m simply saying that for me, those ‘monsters‘ are still human beings and so still deserve my compassion.  I can address the issue of the hurt they have caused me, but I do it with compassion.  Not always easy to do, but for me it’s worth trying.

I know that’s a hard one to swallow, and I can hear people saying that I just haven’t been hurt badly enough by those ‘monsters‘.  Actually I have had more than my fair share of hurt from those people, but I simply don’t see that I have a right to turn around and seek to destroy them.  To write them off as not even worth being called human.

Maybe my compassion for them takes a different form than for someone who hasn’t harmed me, but I still have a responsibility of compassion toward my fellow human being.  And actually, it’s the way I prefer to be.  It, in time, enables me to let go of the anger I felt.

I know many people might disagree with me.  That’s ok.  What I’m doing here is thinking out loud for myself.  I am in no way telling you what you should do.  I believe that is for each of us to work out personally.

The purpose for me blogging is not to ‘make it‘ to the ‘cool group‘ of bloggers.  Actually until a few weeks ago I never knew such a group existed.  So I’ve now read, apparently it does.  I don’t want to be cool.  I don’t need thousands of followers.  I am happy to have the people who read my blog, as I really appreciate them taking the time to read what I write.

I have never been ‘Freshly Pressed’, and actually I suspect I never will be.  I don’t write the right things for that, and again, it’s not one of my goals.  Perhaps if my goals as a blogger were different, then I wouldn’t write posts such as this but I need to express myself when I get really disturbed by what I see/read.

Lately I have seeing some really hurtful things being posted, attacking people, often all in the name of getting one back.  I think it’s really sad if that’s what blogs are used for.  Naming and shaming. Revenge. Getting one back.  Bullying.  Even standing by your friends.  Whatever you call it, all it is does is hurt people (often innocent parties too) and frankly puts me off wanting to be a blogger, let alone read blogs.  To be able to write and express ourselves so freely makes us fortunate as writers.  We shouldn’t abuse that.

Many of us have histories of being hurt, abused and badly treated.  For many of us expressing that hurt is what blogging is about.  But it strikes me that having experienced these things in our lives, we should have a much better sense of how much harm we inflict when we choose to attack others.  I continue to want to treat other people as I would want to be treated.

I want to be clear that I will never use my blog to attack another person.  I am quite clear that if I have an issue with a person, then I can deal with that directly, but it is not the way that I want to blog.  If I find myself having done that, then it will be the last post that I write.  I also don’t intend to follow blogs anymore where individuals are being attacked in ways that seem inappropriate and unfair.

I can’t tell others how to behave, but just think about this… do two wrongs make a right?  If so, then who has become the bully?  And what do we think of bullies?

Personally I can’t stay quiet when I see bullies in action.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” 

― Desmond Tutu


17 thoughts on “Who’s The Bully Now?

      1. That’s pretty much the best and most important trait a person can have, Cate. Unless you are the Westboro (? I honestly don’t even know how they spell it and am not going to look it up as even that small bit of peripheral negativity is more than I need) Baptist Church and think every normal human action is wrong and you should use your words to spread hurt, hate, and misery. . .

        Seriously, though, you are one of the guardians of all that matters in this world — and also a kindred soul (but you knew that part). ♥

  1. I’m totally with you on this one, two wrongs never make it right. While I may not be able to find compassion for someone who hurts me physically, I believe he still deserves the compassion of someone else, like his jailor or social workers! Rehabilitation over punishment any day!

  2. Cate, I love the elephant/mouse quote. I appreciate you sharing the story of your grandmother’s watch and the school bully, too. How hurtful for you! I have been bullied a great deal in my life, too. It is why I live a largely solitary life now with just my Miss Velvet cat and me. I have “picked up my marbles and gone home,” so to speak. ;). I also agree two wrongs don’t make a right. Love you and all you do, Cate.

    1. It makes perfect sense to choose to live a solitary life when you’ve been hurt so much. But it makes even more sense to have Miss Velvet by your side. A pet or two or three is what I’m really missing right now. My home just isn’t complete. I can’t do anything about it until my house gets it’s earthquake repairs. I’ waiting… impatiently. ❤

  3. Hmmmm I am really out to lunch, it would seem. I never know anything that happens around me, always in my little bubble of squirrels, cats and snow falls. For the best, I am sure.

    You know how much I struggle with the concept of not being able to have compassion for/be judgmental of those who have done terrible things. Not necessarily to me, but to any other human being. I haven’t got an answer either.

    And since I have always been the nerdy, solitary kid, mostly by choice but also because of my weird ideas… you know thinking that equality, social justice and humane actions are things to aim for, I am sure I will never be pressed either, or part of any cool group. And that’s fine by me.

    I can’t understand bullies, though. I just can’t. I don’t understand the mental processes that go on their brains. How does one make them see, make them understand what they do? How do they become bullies? Are they genetically predisposed to be bullies? I simply cannot understand how some human beings find pleasure in causing hurt, be it to other people or to animals

    1. Being out to lunch has distinct advantages. I’d just enjoy your lunch and don’t worry about anything else. Bubbles of squirrels, cats and snow falls sound pretty good.

      I understand your difficulty with the whole thing of compassion to those who do terrible things. It is totally understandable. You are of course, only human and often with circumstances answers take a whole lot of time to come. But then I was thinking that perhaps that inability to get to your answer actually adds to your stance on bullies. I too can’t understand human beings who get pleasure in causing hurt. Some of that comes from my own experience, some comes from things I’ve seen, and I’m inclined to think that some comes simply from the type of person I am (thankfully).

  4. Pingback: Who’s The Bully Now? | Human In Recovery

  5. Dove Seven Gold

    I think there is a difference between venting as part of healing yourself after hurt, and actually harming the one who harmed you. I don’t harm others, but I do vent when I need to; and I would be the first to admit, I do have a real problem with men who harm women and kids; and I find it very hard to have any compassion for those men; I do call them, and think of them, as monsters; their acts are sick, twisted and repellent; and they are calculated.

    I have compassion for their victims.


    1. Hi Dove, I agree with you that there is a difference between working through something for your own healing and setting out for revenge and harm. That working through is such an important process for us. I recognise that compassion is a difficult issue and I don’t for one moment think that there is just one answer. I think it’s very much and individual thing.

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