One word: Ugh.
Bullying is not okay. Words hurt. A lot. They come back to haunt us when we are having a bad day.
I am going to tell a story.
I know a boy named John* who has been bullied for several years by another boy, Dylan*. Dylan would tell John things like:
“You are so weird.” “No one likes you.” “Is there a way that you can speak so that people actually understand you?” “You are a freaking retard, John.”
John started to believe Dylan. And that is very sad, because those words were not true. Why was Dylan so cruel?
I watched (and sometimes intervened in) these instances from the sidelines. I think that Dylan might have been insecure or bullied himself. All the insults he used he had heard before, or were what he was afraid of becoming. So he tried to redirect attention away from himself and toward John.
I started noticing something interesting as I watched Dylan desperately beat John down in attempts to make himself seem better. Instead of distancing himself from John, he became a participant in a bigger problem. Dylan also became known by other peers as rude, cruel, and sometimes dangerous.
What I learned from this experience is that for some reason many of us have a tendency to drag others down to lift ourselves up, but it doesn’t work. Yes, Dylan needs to change, but what about me? Am I a bully sometimes?
If I ever feel insecure about my clothes, or hair, or whatever, I try to find a way to serve someone else. I find that this tactic distracts me from wanting to make myself be better than everyone else. I try to remember that God is “no respecter of persons.” This means that he loves all of us equally. He loves who we are and how we are right now. No one person is better than another.
Here is a great video I found on youtube.
It is a short story about how a young man realized how hurtful bullying can be. The video includes portions of a sermon by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a leader in my church.
*Names have been changed.