I recently witnessed an instance of bullying carry out on Facebook... between adults. That's right! A good old fashioned hurtful anonymous message and a battle of the wits that rivaled my high school experiences unfolded before my very eyes at the ripe old age of 30.
Should we be surprised that bullying still happens among adults? Probably not. Why not? Why am I not shocked and outraged? Because bullying still exists in our schools today and within the highest levels of government and bullying is a learned behavior. Where do today's youth learn this behavior? You guessed it! From us. They learn this behavior from us.
So what are we to do about the issue of bullying? As I watched this event unfold, I read the comments of people calling for revenge, justice, police reports, and -- my favorite -- toe pokes! What is a toe poke, anyway? All of these adults were outraged that a strong, beautiful woman was being bullied for her successful weight-loss journey. Rightly so. But did anyone stop and take the time to consider that calling for violence and beatings of this bully might be uncalled for?
When we react to bullying and violence with more bullying and violence, we are only perpetuating the problem. We need to be the example. We need to take the time to respond rather than react.
In my personal experience being bullied (in high school), most people who bully you or pick on you do so out of a place of hurt; they lash out at others to feel better about their own insecurities. How do we stop them from attacking us? Maybe it is as simple as showing them mercy and love because nobody has shown them that kindness before.
Mercy. And love.
Jesus tells us during his sermon on the mount, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7). Jesus also commands us to love one another and says that we will be known as Christians by our love (John 13:35).
Two very simple principles that we can share with others and exemplify not only for our children but also for our peers. Since I became a mother, I understand the power of example more than ever before. Everything I do or say has the power to
indirectly impact my child's behavior and future behavior. That is a lot of power and responsibility.
Bullies use their power and strength to influence or intimidate others and bring them down. What if we consistently used our power and strength to be a positive influence on others and lift them up?
When we witness instances of bullying or are the victim of a bully, let's take pause and think about extending the mercy that we want to experience ourselves. Rather than reacting to their actions and stooping to their level, choose joy for yourself and show the bully how to choose joy in their own life. Think about who is watching you and how your actions impact those around you.
Then choose love.