Perplexing: The evolution of “Bully”



Doubt/Hope vs. Certainty

Today’s Daily Post word prompt, perplexed, couldn’t have been more serendipitous. It led me directly to this thought-stream:  perplexed might be fairly indicative of the human condition: “Do we really know what we think we know?” (What do we really know about bullying?)

I had a brief email exchange this week with Dr. Matthew McKay, whose book, Seeking Jordan, paradoxically challenged–and yet validated–my understanding of the nature of our lives on this planet. I had written to him, saying that the way he framed the concept of life’s purpose was finally allowing me to forgive my mother. His response indicated that my message gave him hope and helped with his own doubt.

My thought-stream eroded its channel even deeper:  can any of us say for certain that we know why we are here– or what happens when our physical bodies cease the process of “living”? (Can bullying be part of our life’s purpose?)

This circuitous kind of thinking continues to propel me into a cloudy–and yet surprisingly comforting frame of mind:  by accepting doubt, I can also accept hope. By retaining certainty, I am–possibly–abolishing hope for any kind of change. Is it too great a jump of logic to say that by rejecting certainty, I am leaving myself open and vulnerable for new learning–or maybe even new levels of consciousness? (Is there another way to think about bullying?)

Do words clarify? Or do words perplex?

Quite honestly, I think it’s the fault of WORDS. Sometimes, the glint of the eye speaks more clearly than the words of the mouth. (That doesn’t sit very well with those of us who like to tap out words, does it? That’s just BULLY!)

The kingdom of bully-dom

Apparently the original word bully dates from the 16th century Middle Dutch word boele meaning lover. It was a term of familial endearment applied to either sex. How did it digress to defining a crime? As a teacher, there were definitive guidelines for charges of bullying–such that offenses become part of the student’s written record. We can’t even agree on what constitutes bullying!

If we can’t draw the line somewhere or at some age, can we we know bullying IS, really? I can’t help but conclude that in order to deal with bullying, we just have to teach kids to be nice. But when? Four? Three? Newborn? Actually, yes. Even before. Bullying has (if you can be certain about scientific method) a correlation to a history of anxiety and the accompanying long-term production of cortisol in the body. You can read the report of Healthy Families America and Preventing Bullying by tapping on the link. It should download a document for you that provides the assumptions and arguments for the development of a family intervention program to prevent bullying, that is already in place here in the U.S. Have you heard of it?

I had a delightful exchange of comments today with @lazyhaze. I asked for permission to quote the exchange (great website over there, by the way!)

LH: Thank you for this. I think all of us need to take bullying seriously and have conversations with our children. I was a bully in school without ever realizing it. When I did, I was sorry for saying hurtful things and inflicting pain upon others, but the damage is irreversible.

M: It is a great credit to you–to be able to acknowledge and understand that. Huge. I think that *most* if not all of us, have done hurtful things. I’m not so sure, in greater sense, that it is irreversible. If anything, the sheer recognition can become priceless in terms of prevention. And honestly, even your response to this post has an element of healing for *me*. Recognition of the reality of bullying’s negative effects gives validation to those who have felt pain, and the fruits of validation are healing and renewed courage. Thank you!

LH: You are right. It is hard to make amends, as most of these people are no longer in your life. It is best to teach our children to be better, by doing better ourselves in our every day interactions. Prevention is better than a cure. I’m very glad that many schools are adopting a zero tolerance policy toward bullying.

M: You have made an excellent point ” It is hard to make amends, as most of these people are no longer in your life. It is best to teach our children to be better, by doing better ourselves in our every day interactions.” And if we were given a chance to continue the conversation, my guess is that with each response, we (the collective “we”) would be raising each other with better ideas. In fact, if I propose the idea that I think that bullying prevention needs to start at the newborn stage–learning to sense each others’ emotions and to be in a continual process of decision making–my guess is that you would be able to frame the idea even more eloquently.

LH: Haha…hardly😊…But may be we should start at birth, right along with those vaccinations

M: Haha…actually, I’m pretty sure you just NAILED it. “Let’s inoculate our children against disease and hatred at birth…teaching authenticity and kindness.”

Early, early intervention for prevention of bullying? Now, that’s just bully!

Your comments are most welcome…always!

Love, ❤ ❤ ❤




8 thoughts on “Perplexing: The evolution of “Bully”

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