Thursday, November 17, 2011

Manufactured Bullies

Recently I heard about three separate cases of bullying at local schools. The children involved were male and female; the schools were public and parochial; the grades were 4th, 6th, and 8th. 

Why so much bullying? It's all about power.

As we see in the media, power is everything. Reality show contestants bully one another, politicians attack one another, sports figures trash-talk. We allow all this into our homes and let our children watch it thereby giving tacit approval to the behavior. We may even bully our children ourselves in an attempt to force certain conduct or beliefs on them.

In short, we are communicating, in so many ways, that it is OK to be a bully. Bullies achieve wealth, power and the respect of others. Bullies get their own TV shows. Bullies become rich and famous.

Our children become what we teach them to be.  They do not pop out of the womb anxious to be bullies. We have bullies because we, as a society, create them. 

Next time you watch television or personally comment on a topic, give some thought to who is in the room with you. Is your child about to learn that being mean is how one gets on TV? Will your child discover that being cruel is a good thing because you are that way yourself?

Every time certain housewives or politicians are on, I cringe over their lack of respect for one another and their willingness to wound one another. These demonstrations of bad behavior might garner great ratings and even provide a laugh or two.  But at what cost?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sealed Lips Sink Ships

So much has been written about the Penn State nightmare that I hesitate to address it here. However, I noticed that the underlying thread to all of the reports is the lack of communication. So many people did not speak out. And what did that get them?

Sadly, there are predators hiding in many places of authority. These wolves, clad in their sheep’s clothing, look and act like what they pretend to be - whether that is a priest or a coach. We worship them. We make them gods. And we pay dearly for that unquestioning reverence. Nonetheless, it happens.

Once abuse occurs, what comes next? In the sad examples of both the Catholic Church and now Penn State, nothing happened when it should have. Reports were made but the people in power chose to ignore or cover-up the issue. There was a communication breakdown. The buck stopped short.

I don’t know why witnesses to the abuse decided to tell a coach instead of calling the police. Nor do I understand, once it was obvious that the coaches weren’t going to react appropriately, that people did not go to law enforcement. This was a crime! And every single person who knew about it and did nothing is equally guilty.

Was anything accomplished by this silence? No surprise - keeping quiet just made things worse. Thankfully, the truth finally came out…but not before additional people were wounded.

I will not address the moral implications of this tragedy. Readers can see for themselves what happens when we make gods out of men or when we let money make our decisions for us.

Just think about how different things would be today if this abuse had been properly reported and addressed instantly. Who knows how many boys would have been saved? Paterno would be a hero still instead of the dog he is. Perhaps only one man would be in handcuffs and all the others would have clear consciences.

There should have been plenty of communication all those years ago. Instead, there was none.