Laxity - the state of being lax.  Does laxity imply lack of initative?  Have we as a society become lax or is it apathy?  I asked myself this question upon viewing the taller, heavier set, young man who struck back after three years of being bullied by someone smaller on video.  His initial response appeared his awareness that the other smaller in stature and thinner was to brush his fist strikes gently away.  Then came the "breaking point" or as some would call it "the last straw" as he slammed the smaller boy on the cement.  Viewing this was a strong tug at my tummy and my heart sinking.  Then came the flood of questions.  Why haven't parents encouraged communication the young man as to what was happening in his life and the safety to tell.  After the fact the boy told of his feelings and how long he endured this abuse to his father.  Why wasn't there an adult or others to intervene?  Why have our institutions of learning not taking a role of informing the lack of tolerance for this behavior?  The greatest insult was the mother of the smaller boy demanded an apology from the one who lived through the abuse from her son.  Why didn't this mother instruct her child not to abuse another?  Pray for this mother and child first for they are the farthest from God.

Is bullying new to our society?  No, it is mankind old so therefore I may not judge it.  I may only judge it for how it makes me feel viewing this and my value system.  I remember as a child of long ago being informed that there was absolutely no tolerance of abuse verbal or physical of another.  Yet I was to stand up for myself firmly.  I felt the self-respect of myself and others.  As an adult the message was no tolerance to allow others to attack the God within you.

As a mother I remember my very young elementary daughter speaking of two other girls that through peer pressure included her to participate in verbally abusing another girl.  My daughter said, "No." when I asked her if she would like this to be done to her.  I told her to apologize to the girl and apologize to the teacher for her behavior.  She had the courage to do as I requested.  I had a daughter who marked a crises in her life and felt the inner peace to be free of the awful situation.  

The attitude that "kids will be kids" does invoke a yes yet at the same time not to negative, harmful situtations or outcomes.  The news brings the outcome of bullying to shootings in schools. It is possible that our media plays a role in the outcome.  Violence viewed decreases the impact that it no longer shocks us into apathy. 

I remember a time when my husband talked of a class raise your hand survey another high school teacher did (1980's).  The first question; was the bombing of another country that produced many deaths and radiation ok?  The opinion expressed from the students was yes that it was ok to kill the people as long as the buildings remained unharmed.  The second question came from a community aspect (true) some high school boys broke into a store during the night was this a right thing to do?   The students replied, yes it was ok to break-in as long as they didn't steal anything.  It appears the value of life from the opinions of the students devalued the life of others.  It would have been a more interesting second questions if asked, "What if was you that lived in this country?" and "What if it was your home or business that was broken into?"

I fell recently slipping on a wet floor at a public event.  It was the first time that I ever heard myself scream when I went down.  Two men helped me to my feet.  All others remained in place looking at me and never moved a foot towards me or asked me if I was ok.  There are those who instinctively respond.  To my awareness it was the amount of non-movers that perplexed me?  I wondered as I watched the video of the young man that was bullied felt the same way for there were many people watching.  Was this the coliseum effect I pondered?

As a nurse, I worked in a place that violence could erupt at any moment.  It is horrible to hear fists hitting another's body.  Sometimes we take actions when looked back on astounds us.  Two large men arguing quickly escalated into punching each other.  I was small in stature and weight and they towered above me.  I cringed inside and yet found myself between them yelling and pointing at the chairs, you sit down here and you sit down there.  They looked down at me suprised and sat down.

As a child I couldn't hear profane language or someone with a raised voice without feeling uneasy.  I intervened in a situation that could have been dangerous to me.  Afterward I contemplated my response in this situation.  Where does the strength to help or take charge come from?  How does one jump into a river to save another?  Somewhere it is in all of us.  So why then did it take three years for lack of intervention in the bullying?  Where are the parents, social situations, teaching institutions, and churches doing to educate children the respect of life?  We pass it off on whose responsiblitiy it is to help children grow and respond appropiately in society - it is all of the above when bullying occurs in our presence.  Rev. Karen

Sister of Peace
June 6, 2011