My morning began not with anything about Karen Klein , but rather with an e-mail from a friend in Israel who survived Auschwitz (so I am giving away her age), lives in Israel and was sharing with me a piece by Pat Condell to help me ‘feel better’ about the U.S. (it actually made me feel better by the concept of relativity). My friend and myself had been having a conversation of sorts on the meaning of ignorance (lack of exposure and education) vs. ignorance (stupid, feral people from foreign countries) vs. ignorance (stupid, venal people who wish to bully others to buy into ‘their’ point of view for some psychological power play).
I am at best a secular Jew. At worst, probably more Buddhist than Jewish. I ‘gave up’ my tribe, so to speak, when I realized at age 10 that all people migrated out of Africa and thus we were all related. Later on I realized we were genetically related and the various environmental factors shaped us into who we are today. In graduate school, I read ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ and made even more of a connection to how we got to where we are now, in the 21st Century.
Due to my own beliefs, I chose to do Peace Corps in Namibia, SW Africa as opposed to going and living on a kibbutz in Israel (much to the di.smay of some of my more religious family members). The most valuable thing I understood (I already knew it on some level prior to Peace Corps) and then gained tools to describe, is ignorance is a lack of education and exposure, not anything else. Poverty of the mind is actually more damaging than monetary poverty.
Bullying is really a lack of exposure and education. It is a behavior to establish dominance or perceived dominance. Bullying is what leads to war. It is the opposite of compromise and being wise enough to open up oneself to understand the other side and wish to reach across the chasm. Bullying demonstrates weakness of the person doing the bullying, even though it feels awful to the person being bullied.
Bullying is not helpful in changing behaviors – it makes things worse. Bullying does not make some one respected or respectful – it makes them feared and hated. When we allow children to bully, we are in effect raising up people without the capacity to reason, think and or have feelings. The word for this is feral.
We as adults get to choose how we deal with bullying. We can (A) ignore it until something horrible happens (Karen Klein, Matthew Shepard, Pat Condell, Joseph Kony, Pol Pot, Hitler…..just to name a very few of the bullied and bullies – you can put in whomever you wish ) and claim to be lacking in the knowledge of the issues OR we can (B) choose to do something on the front end which takes a ton of work but is less costly. (B) is called parenting. (B) is called having community and expectations and a threshold on behavior. (B) is never allowing children to act out just because or use the excuse of their self-esteem.
When we ignore the behavior of children, we lead them to the false belief that what they are doing is okay, correct, acceptable and sadly, legitimate. In the mind of a child, not getting a NO is really the same as you outright saying YES!
There is not enough money in the world to ‘repair’ what happened to Karen Klein any more than there is enough money to repair what happened to slaves in the U.S. Money does not compensate – it is a legal manipulative for everyone to reach a ‘fair and supposed just balance to pain, suffering and damage’.
What we need to do is educate – educate parents on what their job is as parents. We need to educate teachers and administrators to stand firm on bullying issues and take it to task the very first time – even if some parents feel upset. It is imperative that we teach character – http://charactercounts.org/. General and PARENT Colin Powell just wrote a new book as well, “It Worked for Me’. The time for making excuses was when we wished bullying was not a bad thing and it was a rite of passage.
Bullying is only a rite of passage for those who lack education and exposure. The group lacking in education and exposure becomes more evident every day. The ‘lacking group’ likes to throw blame around and manipulate reality to bully others to believe they manner that they do. We don’t need to worry about the various differences of our beliefs in religion as we do about worrying about our beliefs of human dignity.