Bullies and the Mob Mentality: a Dangerous Combination

I had planned to write about something happier or more uplifting for my next blog.  But, I tend to follow my muse where she leads me.  The subject that she is screaming in my ear this morning is the story all over the news now about the 68-year-old grandmother/bus monitor who was mercilessly bullied by a pack of teenagers on a school bus.  The video from a cell phone captured roughly ten minutes of their cruelty that included everything from insults and profanity to actually putting their hands on her.  I’m shocked and sickened by it.  It’s the kind of thing that knots around my insides and leaves me completely devastated about the things that society is capable of.  That a group of kids could treat another human being as essentially non-human breaks my heart.  It’s that kind of chilling marginalization or hate by one group against another that gives rise to the horrors that the human race is capable of, things like slavery, the holocaust and 9-11.      

Notwithstanding the callousness of the teenagers on that bus, it’s difficult for me to believe that all of those kids are inherently evil even though their behavior certainly was.  So, what is it that drove them to do it?  The answer for me is two simple ingredients.  A charismatic and powerful bully that lusts to be the center of attention, and a crowd of individuals either afraid to be left behind or placed in the bully’s cross-hairs.  It’s human nature for us to want to go along in order to be included in “the” group.  There is safety in numbers and it’s never fun to be unpopular.  Having a scapegoat or target takes pressure off of the individuals in group from having to look inward as to how they are flawed or to blame for their own circumstances.  But, there is a heavy price to pay for inclusion in that kind of group.  One essentially has to sell a piece of their soul.  Sell enough of your soul and pretty soon you won’t be you. 

The good news from this story though is that people around the world are horrified by what happened.  A new group is taking shape united by the message that this kind of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated, because it’s just plain wrong.    Imagine a world where instead of human “herds” being held together by hate and disdain for outsiders, we become one that celebrates diversity and inclusion.  I want to be part of a group that is loving, hard-working, accepting and won’t tolerate hate in any form.  Call it naive, but that is my hope for the future of our human race.  As for those kids, I do think they should be punished in such a way that they learn a lesson in how to be a better human being.  I’m not talking about revenge.  That never solves the problem.  Revenge only adds fuel to the fire.  I’m talking about extinguishing the fire by teaching them and others how to be brave enough to stand up to a bully, and not go along with a crowd when it means giving up your humanity in order to be included.   Peace.


10 thoughts on “Bullies and the Mob Mentality: a Dangerous Combination

    • Thanks, Kieran. I hope those kids learn just how paiful and awful their behavior was to the woman they abused. On a happier note, I’m always happy to chat with you. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend.

      • Hi Bev, I’ll second what Kieran said. Great comments. I was just reading an article this morning about this senseless and mean behavior. In my job I see the consequences of the mob mentality and just the lack of respect for other human beings. It is heartbreaking. At the same time I try to remember that I can touch one person at a time in a positive way. Your blog is a great way of reaching out to spread civility. Thanks for writing about this. ~LM

      • Hey Lynette, I think you are awesome! Thanks so much for your service. I suspect you’ve touched and made better countless lives. Have a great weekend, my friend.

  1. We can use the word “teenager” to describe these boys. I like your description of the lead bully, and there actions were horrible, and cannot be defended. However they are children in the process of becoming adults. We lack as a society any ability to restrain the actions of such minds, we are kidding ourselves if we think we can, some people use the phrase “rite of passage” to describe such actions, it also not gender specific. The fundamental difficult is that, they as yet are unable to Rationalise there actions, this can be seen by the expressed regret of some of the kids, but it took being told what they had done, was wrong, for that to happen. Bev, this blog is great in it’s analysis, and your wish/want is well argued. However I regret, these kind of things, will go on happening. Because essentially we are dealing with irrational minds, and that is part of the natural process of life. E

    • Good morning, Eileen. Thanks for stopping by to add to the conversation. I agree that a young mind can be all mixed up with the hormones swirling around inside them. But, I know lots of very sweet kids filled with empathy and a sense of right and wrong who would never disrespect their elders the way these kids did. I just think that a civilized society needs to send a strong message that this kind of behavior is wrong and won’t be tolerated. Again, thanks so much for weighing in. This a really important topic. Have a great weekend. Bev

      • Hi Bev, I agree, there are lot of sweet kids, but where do they learn such behaviour. Not from the “rite of passage” parent types, certainly. Those same parents would declare themselves to be civilised. The kids are not the problem, they are the symptom, and that is what I was trying to say.E

  2. While I am late in a reply to this, you bring up such valid points on a subject that raises my ire as well as my awareness about the underlying problem of a base level of respect for others. When the rally cry to bullying sounds – even in the quiet internal dialog – is there even a moment when the bully hesitates for a second, and thinks about the outcome of his actions? Too often not. In this instantaneous world, there is little encouragement to consider beyond an immediate reaction, to go to an instant of calm, to recognize the “me” in everyone. It takes bravery and resolve to stand firmly in a good and honorable place and consciously decide. We all need to show what happens when acting from a place of respect. Thanks for the wise words, once again, Bev.

    • Hi Sheila, thanks for adding to such an important conversation. I wonder too, whether there is any hesitation. I suspect those in the crowd who instinctively want to go along with the bully do hesitate. Or, at least I hope so. They are the ones who will change the world by putting themselves in the crosshairs of the bully to protect the victim. As always, great to share thoughts with you. Take care.

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