Why Wouldn’t our Children Bully?
It should be no surprise that bullying of and by our children has come forward as an issue of concern in America. Look at the adult examples all around them. Look at the tenor of our foreign policy, regardless of who is in power, regardless of the year. We have bullied the world more or less since our inception. Do you think that the sense of entitlement that motivates this adult and national behavior doesn’t influence and shape our children?!
Specifically, take a look at our current political ad campaigns. Candidates are trying to shout, push, and fight their way into power so that they can “take back” Congress, or “keep” Congress. And the candidates refuse to take responsibility for so doing—it’s just politics. They say that they are victims of the very system they claim to have the strength and wherewithal to change, their espoused motive for seeking election. I guess their plan is to stop bullying once they win their seat.
Then take a look at how are we responding to the bullying our children are experiencing? If we are doing anything (the constant specter of litigation haunts those who are in the position to take action, often keeping them frozen in a feeling of futility and fear for their livelihoods), we are trying to crack down on the bullies. Enforce rules. Legislate the problem way. Isolate them. Expel them. We are using bullying tactics to rein in the bullying.
Would it not be wiser to look at the underlying reasons for the behavior? Attempt to come to terms with the cause rather than respond to the effect?
What is a bully? A coward. Per our habit, in our usual media blitz of the topic du jour, we tell stories about victims. Then we ask the perpetrators, “Why would you behave this way?” The resounding answer in this case: “I wanted to belong. I wanted to be part of the cool group.” Read: I’m insecure. Read (here we go): I have low self-esteem. And why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t they?
Parents are too busy chasing the dollar to parent. Our leaders are too busy jockeying for positions of power to govern. The talking heads are stuck in the blame game. Our teachers and healers are busy covering their asses, the constant specter of litigation haunting them. And all of this driven by a twisted and obscene notion of success and entitlement set in motion by [don’t touch the sacred cow] capitalism. Not capitalism per se, but the perverse corporate capitalism we practice.
This bullying is a symptom of a malaise that plagues our country. We need to be honest about some of our core beliefs as Americans. We need to look at what we expect from our children, and why. Ask any parent what he/she wants for his/her child, and he/she will answer, “I just want him/her to be happy.” And what does happy really mean? Comfortable, successful. So we need to wrestle with our notions of comfort and success.