“For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.” (Thoreau)
Since the spike in reporting of gay teen suicides last fall, Anti-Bullying legislation and awareness has sky-rocketed. “No-tolerance” policies and similar efforts to keep all students safe are one important way of reducing undesirable behavior, but they do not address the root causes of bullying. We think it’s a spiritual problem.
In this series, MyOutSpirit.com asks LGBTQ spiritual leaders what the root causes of bullying are and how we can heal them in our children and ourselves.
Lani Kwon Meilgaard, MA, Founder, Creating CoPOWERment Center LLC:
The root of bullying is the bully’s own hurt and anger. The bully suffered humiliation as a child and needs to feel bigger than whoever initially hurt her or him. The bully acts out of the false worldview that if the bully punches or puts down someone else, she/he will be superior to them and, thus, overcome their own past traumas.
I speak from personal experience, having been on both sides of that equation. I was never a bully as a regular practice, but I have often been triggered by my own past trauma to lash out at innocent people.
We must remember that all of us can be bullies and victims, but in order to overcome trauma we must be willing to take responsibility for our own healing: admit something is wrong, seek support and be willing to be honest in order to delve into the abyss of our suffering and come out clean and transformed on the other side.
Parents and teachers need to be aware of their own biases and prejudices, and the Shadow parts of themselves that they hate and were taught were not okay. Healed parents and teachers can more effectively prevent and reform bullies, both through instruction and by modeling good behavior. With Unconditional Love and Self- and Other-Acceptance we can each embrace the bully/victim inside and transform him or her into a Survivor.
I asked one of the best English/Life teachers I have ever had (David Langen, retired after 30+ years of teaching at Pearl City High School) about what he thought parents and teachers could and should do: “Letting them get away with it is the root of bullying. Kids have to let adults know they are getting bullied, and then the adults can't drop the ball. The principal of the school has to make it clear that bullying isn't tolerated. Kids have to believe there will be justice and safety.”
Still, the cause of all violence is the illusion or delusion that “others” are the problem, when in truth each of us is responsible for our own actions, words and thoughts.
Bullies really think and believe that others are bullying them, and that they have to strike out before others get them. I've seen it in action several times.
Thus, in order to “strike at the root” of the problem, we are called upon to reach out in compassion to others, even bullies. Maybe most of all to those who cause others hurt. (Within reason. I'm not advocating self-sacrifice or rescuing others who can’t be or don’t wish to be supported. Rather I offer the suggestion that we reach out in compassion to one another as human beings when all concerned are willing to pull their own weight and offer their fair share.)
As Marianne Williamson once said, “May we not succumb to thoughts of violence and revenge today, but rather to thoughts of mercy and compassion. We are to love our enemies that they might be returned to their right minds.”
We must be willing to not only “turn the other cheek” but also to reach out to those who seem to be our enemies in order to heal the root cause of bullying and in order to heal our divided world.
Lani Kwon Meilgaard, MA has over two decades of experience in crisis counseling, teaching, public speaking and writing, and she combined these interests into a successful coaching practice in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Creating Co-Powerment® Center LLC serves and supports people going through many different types of life transitions and transformations: graduation, career change, identity crisis, coming out, moving, divorce, recovery, retirement, etc.... S/He believes that each person already knows what they are here to do and, if it resonates with them to do so, would benefit from additional tools and guidance to recover/discover/uncover this Truth within. http://www.creatingcopowerment.com
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