Trying to prove to the bully you are not what his taunts describe, on the presumption that he will finally admit, “You know, you’re right. I’m sorry. You’re really not a _____.”
Cornered by logic, the garbage person – receiving constant affirmation from otherwise ‘neutral’ observers and aficionados alike – finally relents? He wouldn’t know how, he would lose all credibility because the bullying is his only reliable trait. The challenge to not enjoy his taunts on the playground is especially difficult for people like us. We’re as depraved and morally listless as he, he just has no qualms or shame in providing us the rage we need to sustain him. Circle, and vicious as it gets.
Because we have some better idea of ourselves – standards, values, whatever words we use to signal we know and are better. We grow taller but we don’t grow up. Hatred and contempt are strong collective experiences, especially when the bully provides the cover. It’s as though he is ‘taking the bullet’ [which he would never], getting the flack, wearing his vileness like a badge instead of us. He’s the one, and we’d never do that, be like him, though it is the tacit support that bleeds us like a mortal wound.
And what of the focus of the harassment and intimidation that is so alluring, how to fight back?
The question is, are you ready to fight back? Addressing his smears head-on creates the potential for greater vulnerability; you’ve provided credence, confirmed the weakness to which the bully re-commits himself and his acolytes to torment and its enjoyment. Standing up and pushing back is a dirty, ugly business and you will get dirtied and come out at least a little uglier but the bully knows no other language. There is dignity in ignoring the taunts, but this also requires massive courage and stamina. Something is still going to be in your way. Was it always there? Mmm. I think that’s enough for today’s session.
Do you know any illegal immigrants? Your kids go to school with their kids. And if they don’t, well I think this begins to explain a great deal of the antipathy expressed toward them and their fates. Reminder: They = We.
A local situation came up over dinner a couple of nights ago and I had to (try to) explain to les enfants vertes the whys and hows of said situation. A bright, local girl who had excelled in school and won the notice of several teachers along the way had gained attention again because she, now a h.s. graduate, was cleaning houses for a living instead of going to college. Some of these teachers are my kids teachers now, so we’re all increasing cognizant of the situation. And now the kids know, too, that some of their friends at school will, upon gradation, not be availed to entry – much less any financial aid that would make it possible – to continue their education, to continue on any path they may have devised under the strain of all the pressure to success we put them under. These kids will be, in fact, consigned to a future of menial labor, inconsistent and under-employment and less overall income (and tax contributions) than their classmates, all because someone who brought them to this country was undocumented.
Suddenly, I’m having a conversation with my kids about birthright citizenship and why it is crucially important to be that country that people want to come to, want to bring their kids to, want to sneak into, if necessary, and become a part of… I was suddenly defending the nobility of a country – a country that would and does force some of its own school children into that situation that started the conversation.
There are all flavors of examples of this kind of exclusion going on – NPR just this morning. Whether its anti-Islamism or don’t-take-our-jobs hysteria, nothing is more pernicious than the proclivity to cut off access to the future that runs through this country. Hint: Future arrives anyway.