If you know me at all, you will know that I am a non-confrontational person. I do not like drama and will avoid it at all costs. At times, this has saved my sanity as I have been able to stay out of other people’s crap and not get sucked into any unnecessary bickering. At other times, this avoidance has put me in situations where I give up my personal power to others because I fear the argument or consequences may be greater than I can handle. I pick my battles very carefully and quite often end up staying completely off the field just so my own boat doesn’t get rocked.
However, there are times that even I feel the need to step in the fray and say my piece. One of the most troubling aspects of human interaction is the concept of bullying and harassment. An overwhelming amount of attention has been placed on this in the past couple of decades and rightfully so. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and from all backgrounds and all nationalities. No one is guaranteed to be safe from harassment by bullies and there is no fool proof method for dealing with them effectively.
Most often, we hear about this kind of behavior in schools and in relation to children. Most public schools are now set up as “No Bully Zones” and speak of having zero tolerance policies towards harassment. But how effective is that, really? What do the schools really do when a child reports being bullied? From what I have experienced through my children’s school, there’s not much they can do. There are meetings with the offenders, interventions with parents, warnings, etc. But nothing really stems the problem since the problem, while universal to a degree, is also so very individual.
We have all heard that bullies are really just acting out on their own insecurities. They punish those that they see as weaker individuals to boost their personal self image and set their place in a animalistic pecking order. For whatever reason, they have not been able to develop a positive self image and choose the path of dominance and destruction in hopes of gaining either respect or fear. This is where the challenge comes in for those trying to stem the behavior. The reasons for the low self esteem are as varied as the individuals expressing it. It could be a poor family system, economic troubles, peer pressure, societal expectations, abuse, neglect or a host of other issues too lengthy to list here.
As a society, we claim to be appalled by examples of this behavior in children and yet many of the triggers which support it are still held in high regard. We constantly tell the younger generations that you need to fight for the best living possible. You need to be wealthy and have more “things” than the person next to you. You need to be “in charge” at all times and being a simple worker bee is just not good enough. So what happens when a child sees themselves as nothing greater than a drone and is taught to fight for what they want? They fight. They see the only way to survive is clawing your way to the top regardless of who they have to step on to get there. They envision life as a brutal struggle to stay on top regardless of the consequences.
Needless to say, this is a problem. Not just a family one, but a societal one that needs broad strokes to change it. It is also a desperate problem in that the bullying behavior rarely ends with childhood. Those whoare bullied in their youth, will often continue their harassing behavior into their adult life. The behavior that was learned in childhood can be very difficult to change, especially if it was effective for them.
None of this is new information, nor is this a new problem. I imagine that as long as there have been tribes of people, there have been asshole bullies that feel the need to exert their dominance. However, as we are becoming a more global society, and an increasingly wireless one at that, there is less and less face to face interaction that takes place. With this decrease in personal interaction, there seems to be an increase in the comfort level some people have with bullying and harassing those that they do not agree with. Individuals who might normally back down from an argument feel free to vent whatever is on their minds in an unfiltered and often uncaring mode. After all, they will probably never meet the other person in real life, why not act like an ass and try to intimidate. There is little to no chance of any real repercussions, right? Why not spill all your most vile thoughts and words onto this person that upset you, what’s the worst that can happen?
It would seem that many people, when protected by a computer screen, find it very easy to take cheap shots at other people, post character assassinations on blogs and review sites, or just flat out harass those that have for one reason or another pissed them off. Whether it is out of jealousy, rage or just self hatred, these people feel it necessary to tear down those around them to keep people from seeing just how low and depraved they really are. Again, this is not a new phenomenon. But as a species, we just can’t seem to overcome it. It finds it’s way into every group and culture. It is pervasive and destructive where ever it goes. And again, no one is completely safe from it.
A few years ago, as I was introducing myself into the Tarot and spiritual communities, I had hoped to find a safe haven from such pressures. However, I soon found out that even the most openhearted and accepting groups of people find themselves faced with infiltrators of hatred and filth. My first initiation into this fray was when I found a group of fellow Tarotists defaming another for his efforts to preserve the years of hard work and dedication of an individual that was devoted to promoting the honorable spread of Tarot world wide. Upon questioning this group about their motives, I found myself surrounded by their false perceptions and stung by their lack of professionalism and ethics.
I decided from there that I would return to my post as the neutral party and stay out of other people’s drama. I figured if I just flew under the radar and did my thing, I could stay drama free and be happy in my own little world. For the most part it has worked too. I have enough going on in my own life that keeps me occupied that I don’t really feel the need to get involved with other people’s junk. However, it is this concept of blatant bullying and harassment that keeps getting me fired up. There has been a number of recent blog posts about a specific incident in the Tarot community that is just appalling. A blatant bully and generally mean spirited person recently penned a short story that is very thinly veiled fiction about one of her targets of harassment. This story tells how the main character plots and commits first degree murder of an internet radio show host out of jealousy and rage. The story attacks the characters of multiple people in the Tarot industry and insults a vast majority of readers with lines such as “As I surveyed the scene of misfits, I wondered why 75% of female tarot readers could be described as ‘butt ugly fattys’”. The poorly written story finishes with the murderer leaving a final mark of disgust on the victim’s grave with what she describes as a “clean, tubular shit”.
This author and reviewer, has crossed many lines with this piece of work and has hurt many people. I have no idea what torment her mind must be going through to pen such vile words about another person but she has, and she’s selling it.
I am at a bit of a loss in times like this as to how to advise anyone to act. Part of me wants to ignore it and not feed into the drama. Especially since the author has chosen to sell her work, any press only helps to promote her agenda and her story. However, when thinly veiled murderous desires are published for the world to see and the characters of innocent people are drug through the mud, something must be said. It is our duty as compassionate people to stand up and say something. I cannot advise you to purchase or read Janet Boyer’s story “The Ones I Refused To Leave” as it is simply a personal attack from one person to another and holds no literary value that I can see. I can advise you however, to stand up against behavior that you do not agree with. Should you read this story, leave an honest review. I have little doubt that anyone who reads it will see that it is not worth the $0.99 that you pay for it. Should you come across incidences like this in your social circles, speak up. I’m not asking for you to get into a knock down, drag out fight. Just call it like you see it and speak your truth. It’s not about furthering accusations or even picking sides. It is about supporting positive behavior and not allowing negative, hurtful actions to be accepted.
Curbing hurtful behavior will likely be a never-ending task. There will always be a power play going on in someone’s mind that prevents them from acting in a thoughtful and constructive manner towards those that disagree with them. However, if we as individuals are willing to rebuke them for such actions then small steps can be taken to nurture the growth and spirit of those that might otherwise find themselves trampled under foot.
As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”