The idea for this blog sprang from a discussion about starlings, the badass bullies of backyard bird feeders. A wise woman made the point that starlings were merely engaging in survival of the fittest. As much as those greedy birds and the equally obnoxious gray squirrels annoy me every time I look out my window to see them hoarding food or destroying feeders, I have to agree. It got me thinking though about bullying in the context of human beings.
Webster’s Dictionary defines a bully as “one habitually cruel to others who are weaker.” Unlike their animal counterparts, human bullies aren’t in the game merely to survive. I have no doubt that there may be an array of complex reasons that drive why a person becomes a bully. Notwithstanding, their objective is simple, power. How they go about obtaining it also straightforward. Target the weakest individuals and make their lives so miserable that bystanders are paralyzed with fear to do anything about it. No one wants to be in the cross-hairs of a bully. They’re a vicious lot.
Most of us have a known or maybe even been a victim of a bully somewhere along the way from the playground to adulthood. Small person that I am, I was no stranger to bullies who picked on me for my size when I was a kid. As a woman in the legal profession, I tangle with my share of bullies on a regular basis. Here’s what I’ve come to learn about them. They all have the same Achilles heel. The quickest way to bring a bully down is to aim for his ego. Remember when Ralphie in the movie, A Christmas Story, beat the living daylights out of the bully, Skut Farkus? Being beat up by a little kid half his size threw a giant monkey wrench into old Farkus’ ego. He didn’t bother Ralphie again after that.
Unfortunately, pure adrenaline like Ralphie’s isn’t enough most of the time to bring a bully down a notch or two. You better have your game on if you intend to get in between a bully and his power. Plus, the law frowns on punching other people in the nose. Instead, one has to be strategic, brave, patient and relentless waiting for the perfect moment to strike back. I guess that’s why so many times we don’t have the energy to defend ourselves or others against bullies. It’s easier and safer to stay out of their cross-hairs. However, among our sense of self and all those complicated emotions that we humans are equipped with is sapience. At some point, our wisdom about what is right and wrong speaks louder than our own self-preservation. This is the moment that bullies fear. It’s the little fist that comes at them out of nowhere hitting them square on where it counts most.
I hope someday that we humans will evolve away from some of our more nefarious traits such as the desire for power and greed. Maybe if enough of us can find the energy to take on a bully or two that will be a positive step in the right direction. Peace.