Friday, March 30, 2007
Weighing in and BlogHer supports Andy Carvin's new holiday
Slowly but surely wins the race, right? I hope the rest of Lotta's Future MILF's are doing well.
Yesterday I posted about bullying. (By the way, comments remain open. So feel free to write out your thoughts if you want.)
Lisa Stone wrote today in support of PBS Teachers learning now's Andy Carvin who declared today Stop Cyberbullying Day. (Thanks for the heads-up on that, Elisa.)
Also, today, Amy Goodman interviewed Professor Philip Zimbardo, an expert on bullying and victimization (to say the least) and author of a new book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.
It's interesting how things flow together, or how you see/find/hear things when you are aware of them
My post yesterday wasn't a coincidence. It had been on my mind for about two weeks, and then a variety of different events motivated me to finally post my thoughts. It's been fascinating to hear thoughts and opinions, heartbreaking and troubling to read others' stories, and intriguing to learn about people's theories about bullying.
I think bullying grows up with us. I think it grows beyond inappropriate comments. I think it can become instituitionalized and oppressive. What is racism? What is bigotry? What is discrimination? What is neglect?
When you think of the mean bully of yesterday's school playground...cast your mind to now, and forward, and think of the groups of people currently oppressed within systemized bullying.
Children lack the vocabulary and means to rationalize bullying...the victim is the reason, "She's different, he's different."
Adults have the vocabulary and means to rationalize bullying...but at the end of the day, the victim is still the reason. We can call them a danger, we can explain they ask for it, we can even say they deserve it and bring it upon themselves. Or, worst of all, we can put something (such as a corporate bottom line or a selfish agenda) above humane treatment.
If we let it, bullying grows up. I don't think we can eradicate it. But hopefully leaders---be they elected, or unofficial, in a large position, or just the go-to guy/gal---learn to lead without trampling. And also, even more hopefully, with the newer mentality I see with today's kids, parents, and teachers, we can create a culture of intolerance for bullying, and help people feel more empowered to stand up to it or more peaceful about ignoring it.
Part of this might be through better understanding of it: what situations breed it, what feeds us, the risk within us all. And through that, better understanding of each human being in all of the many positions within and around bullying.
It was a coincidence--in a way---that today Amy Goodman presented Understanding How Good People Turn Evil: Renowned Psychologist Philip Zimbardo On his Landmark Stanford Prison Experiment, Abu Ghraib and More. This was The Study of bullying. I've read and heard about this study many times. Still, it was intriguing to listen to Professor Zimbardo talk today about how and why he decided to cut the study short, and how he too became complicit in the events that unfolded during the study. He had to process why he was willing to sit and obseve as the study became out of control and harmful to participants. What snapped him out of it? His girlfriend came by to visit, saw what was happening, and burst into tears. She called him the equivalent of a monster to merely sit by and told him he was the cause of the harm these boys were suffering. She said she could not be in a relationship with someone who put science over humanity. And she left. He said it was the slap in the face he needed, and he immediately ended the study.
Thirty-five years later, the participants and society are still processing the effects of what we all discovered in six days in 1971. This is because we are still learning, still haven't learned.
But I do see progress. What happened at Abu Ghraib, for example, wasn't tolerated. It happened, yes, but wasn't tolerated.
Many say---with some validity---that political correctness has gone too far. However, it has also created acceptance, consideration, and moreover, a (hopefully) growing culture of intolerance for difference-based cruelty.
It's said that you can only feel like a victim if you let yourself. Perhaps I still have learning to do, but at this point in my life, I think that once again puts the responsibility too squarely on the victim's shoulders.
Other people elicit feeling in you. I feel, therefore I am. But, also: I think, therefore I am.
The choice I have is what I think of it and what I do. React is spontaneous, act can be very conscious. If I shut off my feelings, I run the risk, I think, of putting a lid on a valuable jar that ought to stay open. Rather than stop feeling, instead I allow it and process from it.
I don't think there is solely one response to bullies. I think there are many types, in many situations. And I think we need to use discretion about how we respond (if we respond) rather than always use the same, canned retort. I also think we need to consider each bully individually, rather than bucketing them into a category, such as "All bullies are attention-seekers who are insecure and evil." Doing this is the flip side of the bully coin, and dehumanizes through oversimplying another person into a single act or trait.
Look at the bully: who is this person, what do I know about this person, why would this person do this---can I tell?
And from there...I think we can each intelligently, with compassion for ourselves and the other person or people, determine what to do.
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Tags: stopcyberbullying, Blogher supports stop cyberbullying day, Andy Carvin at PBS teachers learning now institutes stop cyberbullying day