Search This Blog

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bullying in All Forms

In my other blog "Mining Gems" (, I state simply that the issue of bullying is one of virtues - or specifically the lack of educating one about their innate seed of virtues within.

For this blog, I'd like to consider what constitutes bullying and how a Baha'i education might address them.  We all can easily have a vision of bullying that involves physical and/or verbal attacks, but what is bullying?  It can come in the form of sexism, racism, and many other detrimental -isms that attack the "other" person.  It is a way to make distinctions ugly and reflect some odd beauty or higher station of the bully above the "other".  It brings with it a satisfaction of (ill-gotten) empowerment and attention.

Contrast this with the words from the Baha'i writings...

Consider the flowers of the rose garden. Although they are of different kinds, various colors and diverse forms and appearances, yet as they drink from one water, are swayed by one breeze and grow by the warmth and light of one sun, this variation and this difference cause each to enhance the beauty and splendor of the others. The differences in manners, in customs, in habits, in thoughts, opinions and in temperaments is the cause of the adornment of the world of mankind. This is praiseworthy. Likewise this difference and this variation, like the difference and variation of the parts and members of the human body, are the cause of the appearance of beauty and perfection. As these different parts and members are under the control of the dominant spirit, and the spirit permeates all the organs and members, and rules all the arteries and veins, this difference and this variation strengthen love and harmony and this multiplicity is the greatest aid to unity.

      (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 295)

If the view that differences are not only beautiful but "strengthen love and harmony and this multiplicity is the greatest aid to unity" is taught early and often in words and deed, then an essential context that supports bullying behavior is destroyed.  Now, do I naively think that reciting the above words and similar words will remove bullying behavior completely?  No.  These words must be shown in action by adults modeling them in everyday life with children, role-playing scenarios with children with thoughtful reflection, and teachable moments at the earliest stages of life must be taken advantage of.

We too often allow soul-damaging behaviors to occur by stating that "boys will be boys" or some similar impotent excuse.  We must balance the line between playful behavior and disrespecting behavior, but I think we tend to give too much leeway and allow disrespect to be a normal activity for children.

One other thought, why would backbiting be considered a most great sin in the Baha'i scripture?
Read the following...

"That seeker should, also, regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul. He should be content with little, and be freed from all inordinate desire" 

Gleanings From the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Pages 264-270

"Ye have been forbidden to commit murder or adultery, or to engage in backbiting or calumny; shun ye, then, what hath been prohibited in the holy Books and Tablets. "

The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Pages 19-34

Backbiting is listed right up there with murder!  Interesting, yes?  Backbiting is also a form of bullying.
Perhaps it is in words that we allow girls to bully more so than boys, since physical bullying is allowed for them.  I encourage you to reflect on how, as parents and teachers, we teach this particular lesson.  How many teachable moments are we missing when backbiting is occurs and it is thought of as a harmless behavior?

For a musical reminder of the writings about backbiting...

Lastly, imagine youth that are raised to consider themselves with the potential to be brilliant stars.  With that as their frame, it is easier to lovingly teach when they make mistakes.  Mistakes in word and action are opportunities for growth and a caring parent or teacher will not react with superfluous disappointment but with a diligent and tempered view that this sapling requires just a bit of support and trimming ;-).  Let's help them from when they are very young and not wait until they are teenagers.


Anonymous said...

keep up the good work with the blog, this was very inspiring!

Montana Don said...

Take a look at this link. We finally have an "expert" saying what some of us have long known - bullies are among the most popular people in a given group. Therefore, they are the natural result of a dysfunctional society based on radical individualism and social darwinism.

Don C