April 12th, 2013

hercthinking

I'm afraid I've been thinking♪

Last night, a friend mentioned something on LJ that got me thinking and I wanted to talk about it more on our LJ because it involves Thinking and I prefer to do that at home instead of in other people's space. It's a little bit tricky though, because I did leave a comment, and she respectfully disagreed, also saying she didn't want to make a debate about it. I don't want to make a debate about it either, but I was already planning to express my feelings on it here, and it's important to me, so I didn't want to change those plans. I'm hoping that not mentioning this friend by name will work as evidence that I'm not trying to argue, just express my own feelings, but of course if she wants to come forward and identify herself, that's okay, too. And if she doesn't want to, we won't be offended.

So here's the thing. Apparently (I say apparently because I've only heard it second hand), there's been yet another incident of a teenager getting bullied enough that she eventually took her own life. The opinion expressed on this matter, as I (probably wrongly) interpreted it, was, "If you're not angry, there's something wrong with you as a person." That statement isn't entirely untrue, but we seem to be getting this theme from various readings that being angry is "the thing to do." And not just in an "If you have any kind of sympathy for your fellow human beings, you'll probably feel some outrage at this kind of thing" kind of way. It's more of a, "Your duty as a citizen of the planet Earth is to be angry!" kind of thing, like once you're angry, you can claim to be a good person, and if you don't feel angry, you have to apologize for it.

I understand that you're not supposed to accept these terrible things that lead people to suicide as normal and just sit back and let them happen. I understand that it's natural, and even healthy sometimes, to get angry. Sometimes, anger is what it takes to motivate people to take action. I get all that.

But we've also had people get mad at us before, and here's the thing. Their anger usually doesn't inspire us to join their side of the argument. In fact, it usually has the opposite effect. "What!? You have no right to be angry at me! Now I'm going to keep doing that stupid thing just to spite you!" It's like the Democrats and the Republicans shouting at each other in all those debates, or even on Facebook, as if shouting loudly enough is actually going to get people to see their point of view.

...I think I've gotten sidetracked. Athena and I are discussing this In Real Life as I type, so everything's getting messed up. But here's the point I wanted to make. If we want to make any kind of progress towards stopping the bullying, there are probably some people out there with enough influence to start programs and things, but as for me, an individual person who rarely even talks to high school kids, I think it's less important for me to be angry and more important to be a caring, loving person. I've been told that love and anger aren't mutually exclusive, and I can see circumstances where love would motivate one to anger (like angrily standing up for a victim when you come across some bullying), but I think it's easier to focus on one thing at a time, so if we only have capacity for one emotion (and let's face it, humans can be very simple creatures), I would argue that love is the way to go. (And of course I mean real love, not just romantic love.)

Let's think about it. We have a friend who suffers from depression, and she said that when it got darkest, the only thing that kept her from killing herself was the thought of the people who loved her, and not wanting to hurt them. I've never been a victim of really intense bullying, so I don't know if I'm just being really stupid and wrong about this, but I think that the bigger and stronger a support network anybody has, the less likely they'll be to go down a path they can't come back from. Furthermore, from what I understand about bullies (though granted, most of that comes from movies and TV), they do it because they need to feel superior somehow. I was a bit of a bully (nothing too serious--I just liked to put boys in headlocks) in elementary school, and I know I was just doing it to prove my superiority.

I'm pretty sure that in a few cases, they just have twisted personalities that may or may not be a result of their upbringing, but in a lot of cases, that need to feel superior could come from a lack of a sense of belonging, or all kinds of problems at home, like in The Bridge to Terabithia. Maybe if those bullies had someone to lovingly show them that it's not cool to torment people, they would, like, not torment people. (In my case, I just needed somebody to point out (not by getting mad at me, because that just made me rebellious) that what I was doing was actually hurting people. Bullies don't always get that. It doesn't make sense, but that's how it is. Mom used to lecture, "There's no excuse for violence!" but until I could see the why, it didn't faze me.)

...I'm having a really hard time articulating here. But Athena just put it in a good way. "When these people (the victims, their families, the bullies who hopefully realize what their actions caused) are hurting so badly, anger isn't going to heal them."

Finally, I have this video, which isn't about bullying, but it is about a man who had half of his family (pregnant wife and two of four children) killed by a drunk driver. Instead of giving in to his anger, he forgave the driver and helped him turn his life around. We don't know if either of us would have that kind of capacity, but it's definitely something we strive for (when we're not too angry, eheh...).

Today I'm thankful for work going well today, inspiring videos, running gags, the really awesome sound of the shiny HD version of the Agrabah music in Kingdom Hearts, and it being Friday.