A view from my side.
I was an “Army Brat” and moved around constantly. Every time I entered a new school, I was “tested”. Every society has its Alpha male and its pecking order. That is especially true of school age males. When I would arrive, that local balance was thrown off and everyone waited to see where I fit in. It would only take a matter of days before someone would step forward to see just how far I would let them push me around.
I never let them push me. Ever. I always stood my ground and I never backed down. That doesn’t mean I always got into fights. I learned that as often as not, simply standing up to them was enough. Usually, the bully was not so much interested in actually hitting me as he was in intimidating me to establish his inflated and false sense of superiority. By standing up to him, I made him make a choice. He could either bring it on or he could puff up, make excuses and tell everyone I was not worth his time and effort. Translated from bravado into the common tongue, it meant that he didn’t want to risk getting hurt, or worse, dethroned.
The few times I actually did end up in fights usually resulted in draws. At 5’6″, I do not tower over anyone. So fighting someone 6’0″ in high school to a draw really meant that I won in the eyes of everyone else. I remember telling one young man, just before he came at me, that while he would probably beat me to a bloody pulp, he was going to either lose or break a body part in the process. That one ended in yet another draw, and while my face was swollen for a few days, he did indeed end up in a cast. Once it got around that I wouldn’t back down, even if it came to an exchange of blows, I always seemed to earn the respect of those around me and I was usually then allowed to exist in the new group unmolested.
What prompts me to write this was a post I read over on the blog Moment Matters. The post was titled “Bullying Helps” and while I don’t agree wholeheartedly with the post, it does give a different take on the issue of Bullying. We will always have to confront bullies of some sort. As people assert their dominance and try to climb to the top of the heap, many will use any means necessary to get there. Some will out smart us. Some will out maneuver us. Some will be faster, stronger, better. Some, when all else fails, will resort to intimidation, or, as more commonly referred to, bullying.
Whether in elementary school, high school, on an athletic field, or out in the real world of business and employment, we have to learn to deal with these people. They will step on us if we let them. I refuse to let them. I tell my players not to be intimidated on the field and I tell my students not to be intimidated in the classroom. Emotional, intellectual, physical bullying is out there and it is a horrible fact of life. But it is a fact of life and it is a fact that must be dealt with.
Not everyone wins a trophy and I have always hated that shift in our society. I am all for trying to identify and work with the bullies in schools to get them the help they need to stop their destructive behavior, but we must also learn to fight our own battles and not give in to intimidation. Once the bullies learn that their behavior will not get them the results they seek, they start to change their behavior. I have seen it time after time after time. The ones that don’t change, most often end up isolated and friendless. This is the case in schools, in business, and even in world politics.
Understanding that the bully is really the weaker one and having the strength of character and will to not allow them to push you around will take you a long way in this world. Sure, you may end up a bit bloodied in the short term, but you will be the better person for it in the long term.