For years, on the internet, I have seen such common wisdom on bullying as “We should teach kids to stand up for themselves, instead of handing out Pink-Ribbons.” And “We can’t facilitate a society of victims.” And, of course, “We will never get rid of bullying”. Recently, I have seen these as memes, a viral repackaging of a well-reasoned argument for easy sharing. I have worked in education for years, both as a teacher and in support roles. I have seen bullying enough times to understand this issue and the stance that accepts no possible end to bullying and zero tolerance for victims of bullying.
And you know, I have to say I quite agree and let me be clear:
I do not accept the approach that solidarity and care are sufficent tools in healing the cruelties of childhood. Such namby-pamby tactics enable a lamentable slide for the child. If you tell someone “You don’t have to stand up for yourself, I’ll stand up for you,.” Well then, why should they stand up for themselves, much less believe in themselves? Why would you believe in yourself, when someone is doing it for you? That appeal to emotional laziness stymies the individual, making them weak. They become so fixated on “emotional harm” that they chase healing for themselves and those around them and see harm everywhere. They believe bullying can be defeated or in some way measurably lessened, if you can believe such a fancy. They become convinced that there’s something fundamentally wrong with our society of stalwart individuals, and everything we stand for. Then we have a hippy drum circle, once they get together, forming a cadre or cell, all hugging each other and complimenting each other all the time. Gross
Their premise, that bullying is a dynamic that can be weakened through solidarity with the victim, is patently ridiculous. When has solidarity or unifying around a single person’s plight ever been effective? I and my colleagues, a willful and argumentative bunch to be sure, got together to ponder this question. In the end, and through much negotiation and deliberation, we eventually agreed that solidarity never accomplished anything.
I much prefer another option: isolation and self-reliance. After all, a child who believes themselves to be alone against the horrors of the world and solely responsible for their own well-being will be much healthier and sound of mind, far too strong to be bullied again. If we want less bully victims, we need to make stronger children, able to bring overwhelming self-confidence and determination to the battle that is school life. And a strong child is an isolated child. Stories and facts from the dawn of time back up this age old truth: when a group supports a bully and the bullied is all alone, the challenged loner wins every time.
This is because, as I have eluded to earlier, those who depend on others to hold them up cannot stand up for themselves. A single strong-willed individual can knock over such a group like a house of cards. This is why we fought Fascism, named after the Ancient Fascio, a bundle of rods, mythically believed to be stronger bound together than apart. One of the oldest symbols of Mussolini’s Fascism was such a bundle struck by an ax sunk into the bundle, cutting one rod, but leaving the rest unharmed. That’s what Fascists think strength is, but even in their symbol we can see that the top stick is still cut while the group cowers beneath it. The sharp ax of individual will is far stronger and that is how we beat the Fascists in World War Two, through rugged and isolated individualism. The same principle applies here; we must hone our children into axes, weeding out these so-called victims and teaching them to hack it alone. Just like the adults they must grow into.
And that would solve the problem, if you understand that the real problem is all these bullying “Victims”. These weak-willed whiners are the real headache, drawing everyone’s attention to what isn’t a problem. After all, bullying can’t be a problem, as it will be with us forever, a fundamental part of human nature. The strong have been pushing around the weak, and getting a just deserve beat-down when they misjudge who is weak, throughout our civilization. In every corner of human interaction is the dynamic of power, and ignoring this does not make you kinder, but more deluded. There is power when you talk to your boss, power when you talk to your hairdresser. Power even when you write a missed-connection after being jostled on the bus in hopes of finding someone who understands friendship as an interplay of power. Where are you, Blond In a Dress? Why won’t you answer my many missed connection ads? I digress. Those who cannot recognize and wield that power will have it wielded against them, usually by a so-called bully who noticed a self-described “victim” bringing everyone else down and has to correct the problem.
In fact, a child raised to be properly independent and self-sufficient might one day see the necessity of bullying, given their predicament. After all, if they have been bullied, they know that it is like to be beaten and they have a taste for that disappointment and shame. They won’t want to be beaten again and, being independent and self-sufficient, they know that our society of individuals is a tenuous web of interactions that is fragile against the combined weight of leeches in a cuddle-huddle. Should such a child see a group of these leeches, as leeches are always in groups being too weak to survive that web alone, that child will know that each of the unfortunate lot could become a proud and self-reliant Alpha instead.
Such a child would simply have to apply a judicious application of force, to be the ax upon the fascio. And though they might harm one leech, they will actually be cutting the ropes of self-pity and vulnerability that binds the group together. Those weighing us all down will be sent flying apart, to slip beneath the web or to stand tall upon it as proud individuals, just like Rand would have wanted. Isn’t bullying, then, a good thing, a trial by fire through which we all come out hardened? By giving “victims” solidarity and trying to put an end to bullying, we rob children of the chance to become well adjusted adults; emotionally hardened, alone, bitter. The healthy adult.
This is the essence of my simple suggestion about bullying. We must find the self proclaimed victims and set them right, silencing their self-pity. We must protect those students astute enough to see the problem and dare I say brave enough to stand up to the problem. Because it is the bully who is the sympathetic underdog, you see? This will train children for Adult society, where bullying isn’t just accepted, but encouraged for ruthless success, and the victims of the cruelties of adulthood’s are treated with contempt.
And isn’t that the world in which we want to live?
(Note: I really tried to make this as ridiculous as humanly possible to get the satire across. If you want to hear some actual solutions, check this link.)