What If There’s a Bully in the Bully Pulpit?

One of my audiences is high school and college students.  As such, I have been acutely aware of how bullying has escalated in the past decade to the point where it increasingly ends in a suicide or an attempt.  For awhile I could not understand what caused the upsurge in this particular form of insensitivity and intimidation.

I’ve figured it out.

It’s our leaders.  In government, in our churches, in business… the adults of the world have shown, through the behavior of both the bully and the victim, intimidation works.

Think about it.

The cover-up of sexual abuse by clergy, the ramming through of legislation whether or not it’s in the nation’s best interest, harassment and terror experienced by whistle blowers who witness criminal behavior or a lack of fiduciary duty in the private financial sector… all of these have been going on for a very  long time.  Long enough for an entire generation to observe what we do rather than what we say.  So now, we have a generation imbued with the belief that bullying is power.

Our children have watched people in the bully pulpit… acting like bullies.  Is it any wonder the problem has become endemic?

The only power a bully has is humiliation.  The way out of this pattern of behavior actually rests with the so called “victim.”   You see, you cannot bully someone who 1) has no secrets and 2) holds values worth dying for.

Moses, Jesus and Gandhi knew it.  It’s why their legacies have endured long past those of their oppressors.  Many others have known it as well.  It’s the principal of high moral character attributed to John Galt, the protagonist in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. And regardless of the century or the society, it’s still the surefire way to defeat a bully.

Live your life with integrity and know what you value enough such that to live with less would be to not really live at all.

If we each step up and live ethical lives predicated upon truthfulness and personal responsibility, we will know our self worth and be certain in our self esteem.  Bullies, be they ancient Egyptians, first century Romans, the British in India, sexually abusive priests, dictatorial governmental leaders or corrupt corporate executives… all need our cooperation in order to maintain their power.

Cultivate the highest version of yourself  and know what you believe in and bullies will be out of a job. That’s good unemployment.

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