This blog is the final entry in a series exploring the ideals and behaviors of bullies. Today I look at the possibility that I, too, am prone to bullying behaviors.
Jesus talked about taking the wooden beam out of one’s eye before noticing and condemning the sawdust speck bothering someone else’s vision. (See Matthew 7:1-5.) This teaching probably applies to the bullying I see in others—and to the possibility that I also am a bully.
Bullying is obvious in today’s Breaking News tyrants. Dictators, arrogant CEO’s, political miscreants and ego-laden sexual predators eat up a lot of bandwith. Because the behaviors of contemporary bullies are so obvious, it would be easy for me to overlook similar behaviors in myself. But my bullying uses similar tactics: Putting down, overwhelming or manipulating others to prove I’m right, to get my way or change others’ minds.
I’m not a violent guy, so that’s off the table. But over my many decades, I’ve learned how to win with words, to pound at others’ viewpoints, to use subtler means of coercion. Even though no one gets physically hurt and there’s no visible anger, I’m still not off the hook. The result can be the same: As I get my way, others are disempowered, disregarded or diminished.
I might justify my attitudes on the basis of what good I’m trying to accomplish. I can excuse my behaviors when I think of my workplace or volunteer group as a battleground that favors those who are strong. And I can rejigger my bully-traits with kinder/gentler designations—forceful, determined, direct, effective.
None of this is comfortable to admit, but it’s likely true. (In their more honest moments, my colleagues, friends and family have noted the behaviors and attitudes I name here.) So the best way to deal with Bully Bob possibilities is to repent of those traits, and constantly resolve to put others’ welfare ahead of my own.
To pull the wooden planks out of this bully’s eye….
(To receive these entries when they are posted, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three dots or parallel lines. Scroll down to the subscription form and enter your information.)