Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Those Who Would Destroy Us: Thoughts On a Bully Culture

"It was a clear engagement between those who wished the fullness of their personalities to be met and those that would destroy us physically and psychologically. You do not walk away from that. This is what movement meant. Movement meant that finally we were encountering on a mass scale the evil that had been destroying us on a mass scale. You do not walk away from that, you continue to answer it." - Rev. C. T. Vivian, SCLC, speaking about the Civil Rights movement in Selma, Alabama in 1965


I have spent much time in deep thought this past couple of weeks; it has been a very dark couple of weeks in many respects. A twenty-six year old transwoman stabbed to death in her own apartment in the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster; a fourteen year-old girl in northern Pakistan shot for standing up for the right for girls to be educated; a fifteen year-old girl in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam driven to suicide by severe bullying, including being threatened with death and being beaten; an elderly security guard in the city of Surrey, south of Vancouver, beaten unconscious by a gang of thugs; a man gay bashed in East Vancouver by another gang of young men.

Bully culture pervades us and our world, not just high schools. Sadly, most often, our collective apathy (fear of reprisals) allows it to do so. Bully families, bully bosses, bully churches, bully corporations, bully governments, bully nations. I think that, as we decide to combat bullying among the young, we need to speak truth to power, as adults, in the world at large. Youth, no matter how rebellious at times, get their cues from the adult world. Our acquiescence to predatory power speaks larger than anything we may tell them about how to regard themselves and each other.

We need to speak truth to power, bullying power, in all of its forms, political, economic, social, cultural: we need to answer it through taking back our communities, engaging our political systems, taking courageous steps forward and show that we are willing to live fully, bravely. Our bravery to take up space in this world will clear a path for those behind us. As we pay it forward, our youth will see that apathy is not inevitable, that there is a future for them, one worth living and fighting for.

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