Bullying


Bullying, like most things, is a question of a burden-of-proof.  Can you prove you were being bullied?  Can you prove you are being bullied?

Bullying, in my experience, is done by cowards and often cloaked in something else. Some say it’s not that simple, but I really think it’s that simple.  A bully, regardless if by fists or words, is just a child-adult acting out his or her rage at his or her insecurity or, more accurately, insecurities. Where there is one insecurity, there are usually many. Like cockroaches.

Bullies can take many forms, but they usually have ego and fear as common denominators.     

My favorite song is the Leonard Cohen “Hallelujah” and I love its performance by the a capella group Pentatonix sung entirely with just five human voices. I watch the youtube video of it most days to begin my morning meditation. “Not a hymn?!” you say? Nope.

A ways into the song we hear:

“Maybe there’s a God above

But all I’ve ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya.”   

I believe we are living through the broken Hallelujah of life in our hospitals, in our streets as well as in our church, prison and police hierarchies.  

To shoot someone who outdrew you would mean two deaths, because to be outdrawn is to be shot first.  To shoot someone who outdrew you is simply a decision for revenge.  And what we know about revenge is that the perpetrator always needs to bring two shovels, because there will always be two bodies and two graves.

My Buddhist friends are always a source of hope for me – an entire population of people who accept suffering while taming the ego which would otherwise seek revenge for suffering.

Have you been bullied?  By a spouse?  By a friend? By a Bishop? By a colleague? By a boss? By legal maneuvering? By a member of your congregation? By a virus?

I am soon to be on my annual week of retreat which totally sucks.  Being on retreat from social media, technology and work is a part of my Rule of Life; and I usually hate it.  I quite like the anesthesia I have collected over the years – tools I have and use to “not feel pain.” And a retreat is an un-anesthetized week of silent reflection. It will follow a week of vacation this year, so not only will I be bored, I’ll be rested and bored. Ugh.

Some of us, raised badly, by adult-children, have become adult-children and we have hard work to do to be emotionally sober. Daily mindfulness, avoidance of substances and activities that dull feelings, plenty of rest, good choices in friends and television shows, water, exercise – these help adult-children to remain adults.  But it is always such a slippery slope because we adult-children (and there are more of us that you think, given that parenting is not licensed for quality-control like, well, crabbing and fishing in which one drops a trap or a line, and drinks beer)  – we adult-children make such terrible choices in spouses, friends and Bishops. We actually are programmed to choose bullies.  And we do not even know we are doing it.

“Maybe there’s a God above

But all I’ve ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya.”  

I think there is a God; but it is within and around, and not “above.” And I think that God is nothing remotely like what Christianity or Judaism have been promoting for thousands of years to ensure job-security, empire-building and pensions.

The God in whom I believe is whatever voice is inside me that is kind, soft, wooing, gentle and honest.  But there’s the rub right?  Those other voices.  The unkind ones.  The scolding ones. The dishonest ones.  The craving ones. The ones fueled by ego and insecurity.

Someone recently asked me “How do I know what voice in my heart to follow?”  I suggested “the one that’s not shrill.” It’s the only voice I have ever heard that has not been secretly chugging martinis with my ego when I was not paying attention.

To see the YouTube Pentatonix rendition of Hallelujah  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRP8d7hhpoQ

Charles LaFond is a potter, fundraiser and author living on a cliff by the Salish Sea on Whidbey Island with his dog Sugar.

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