Pink shirts, or the wearing of them during anti-bullying campaigns, won’t stop bullying until we accept that bullying doesn’t just happen on the playground — It’s EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME!
Each and every one of us is both a bully and a victim of bullying — or we have been at one time or another. No one is exempt. If you claim you’ve never been tyrannized…I say, “You’re in denial.” And contrariwise, if you claim to be innocent of brutish behaviour, I say “Bull!”
Bullying is part of our nature…we can’t help taking on roles of domination and submission. Survival of the fittest got us this far, and we are taught from an early age that strength guarantees survival.
But strength is not just physical or vocal. Strength is peaceful determination, commitment to truth and intolerance of injustice.
Though we are animals, creatures of instinct and ruled by our genes, this does not mean we shouldn’t strive to manage our bullish natures and approach every situation with a wise mind and positive action rather than with emotional reaction. Our actions and words are models for others.
When a mother wants her child to take a bite of a new food, or a father wants his son to try out for a sport the child does not enjoy…they might lose patience and start demanding obedience…this is bullying. It may be done with the best of intentions and from a place of love, but in both instances the parent is bullying the younger, weaker person. I’m guilty of doing this on many occasions. I did not apologize for bullying at the time, but I am aware that I was forcing someone to do something they did not want to do. I have since apologized for some of my past behaviour, but it was the way I knew how to achieve things at the time. I am learning…and will continue to learn how to negotiate rather than brow beat and accept rather than try to direct. But I do find it easier to bully people into acting or behaving in a way I want them to…it’s hard to be patient and find a kinder way to do things.
Manipulating, pressuring, cajoling, teasing, spurning, profiling, quarrelling, fighting, arguing, intimidating, domineering, coercing, wheedling, begging, harassing, belittling, embarrassing… the list of gerunds that recounts the many ways we bully is long! Our culture has many words to describe bad behaviour.
An interesting fact: The word “Bully” used to mean “Sweetheart” — perhaps that was during the 16th century, but wouldn’t it be nice if the human race never found reason to change the word’s meaning. “He’s such a bully!” would be a compliment!
I like that the PINK SHIRT DAY motto is “Kindness is One Size Fits All”, and some of the shirts say “I commit to a bully-free life!” If we think about kindness when we see a pink shirt, we will be less likely to point fingers, and more likely to turn our energy inward.
So, on this PINK SHIRT DAY, hopefully more people will consider their own actions rather than judge the actions of others. We can forgive ourselves and others for being a bully, and we can continue to stand up for family, friends, and strangers who are being bullied!
I will try not to think about bullying and hate when I see pink, but think about kindness and love.