Years ago, I noticed that while everyone remembers encountering a bully in their life, almost no one remembers being one. Something about the math there doesn’t quite work.
I mean, if you think about it, the odds seem pretty long that hundreds of millions of people in this country could have all been bullied by say, twenty people. Just getting around to everybody, for even the most dedicated team of bullies, would be exhausting, and bullies aren’t typically known for their blue collar work ethic.
No, it seems more likely that the number of bullies is pretty close to the number of people bullied. Maybe not quite as many, but — close. Certainly closer than “none”, which is the number of people who seem willing to admit to it.
If one were to admit to having treated people cruelly in one’s life, the appropriate response would be shame at the memory of having done so. Shame has gotten a bad name these days, but when it’s needed, nothing else will do quite as well.
Kids, particularly when they are with their friends, don’t need to be taught how to bully; it kind of comes natural. Feeling shame is usually sign of coming out of that. If you meet an adult – say in a dating relationship – who has never known what it is to feel shame, chances are, they’re still a bully.
Remember this: a person who has never felt shame is saying they have been perfectly justified in every single action that they’ve ever taken. If you are thinking about marrying a person like that — a person who never apologizes, that is — you may want to think again. “No shame” = “Most likely still a bully” in my book.
Countless words are written every day trying to understand or explain the wellsprings of human cruelty. Given cruelty’s prevalence, however, it is more possibly the occasional human kindness that needs explaining. However, one needn’t look far for what causes bullying: look into yourself, and think of times you just had no use for certain people you’ve come into contact with. You may have been a kid of any age, or a college student, or, it might be at work, or anywhere else.
When it’s “us” that needs to get better, we may; but when it is always “them” who need to change, nothing ever does.