Monday, July 28, 2014

Bullying in Society

Even in kindergartens we have conflicts among the children giving rise to violence and bullying. A religious sister, after reading an article in the daily paper brings the subject to our attention in the opinion page of the Catholic Times. She asks the readers how are we to deal with the increase of this type of violence?

A soldier recently because of bullying in his army camp responded with a shooting rage. Those of us  who have  experienced bullying, know how dispiriting and what it does to our self-respect. We, growing up, have seen this bullying and alienating of our friends. In those cases how did we behave? Although we did not join the bullying were we indifferent towards what was happening, feel no guilt from being a passive spectator? Were we like those who passed the one on the side of the road in Jesus' parable?

She feels the competitive society that is being formed with the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer is not irrelevant to the question of alienation we are seeing. The emphasis that we put on education is going to put those who are not attracted to mental attainments at a great disadvantage. In an environment that extols mental achievements,  teachers will consider a student not able to keep up with the other students as a problem, a reason classmates often bully students. Many children who are annoying the slower students do not feel they are doing anything wrong.

She recommends that we try to put ourselves in the place of those who are being alienated in our society. We have not been good in doing this within our educational system; she laments. We are able to do this when we take time to reflect on our way of living. How much time to we give to this kind of self-introspection? We are too busy to take time out of schedules to reflect on the way we live.

Happiness blossoms with our relations. When we are separated from the relational net to which we belong we are separating ourselves from happiness. Isn't this the reason that Jesus wanted to include the enemies in this relational net? They also have  a need to be happy as a part of God's creation.

Even though there is no bullying involved many are lonely and feel alienated from others. The need for intimacy in our relational network has been loosening, and many have been excluded from the network. Happiness is not something that we grasp but is a gift we receive when those around us are happy. We have to look around us and see those who are stooped over with sadness and give them hope. The words we use and the efforts we make to listen to them may be the means of opening their hearts. This is one step in adding to our own happiness. Isn't this the way we can do something to remedy the abuse and alienation that are wide spread in our society and bring happiness to the lives of many?