Bullying and Rites of Passage – The Wisdom of Standing Up for Oneself LONG but worth the read!!
As an Air Force military brat I learned a lot: how to protect myself; how to survive in a hostile climate; how to shoot a gun; and how to behave in times of war. Learning these things was at the time considered rites of passage and a right to protect our country. For me, a rite of passage occurred every time I entered a new school and, being I often was the only colored person in the school, I had to literally fight a kid who would be berating me or spitting on me or some such nonsense(I say that now). Once the fight was over – I was accepted in the school. Sounds strange, but it’s true. And until I heard the word, I never knew that such was done to me – I was bullied. However, back in the 1960’s, fighting was normal in an effort to stand up for myself and to survive in a ego consciousness that saw people of color as less than and is still happening today.
Rites of passage earmark important aspects of one’s life; many times in life it is not about getting pushed around but then again it is about getting pushed around. And what are we getting pushed around for you might ask? You are getting pushed around until you finally know you are strong enough to push back. Such rites of passage have been forsaken for – what? Dr. Spock? Time outs? Beat downs? Rites of passage continue as they are the timeless essence of producing a person with real understanding of themselves and life in general. When we abandon these rites we wind up with that we have today; children with no real tie to life itself – they live in a shell of life and sooner or later somebody is going to challenge the shell – offer to break into that shell and scare the heck out of whoever is in there! That is why such timeless metaphors of vampires and bullies exist – to try our strength to stand up to life. Such initiations happen in our life giving entities of trees as well – however I digress.
Take for example, what I see many parents doing using our current educational system as a metaphor. What some parents do an attempt to keep their children safe from an ocean (or life) that is big, deep and wide (and many times scary) is take a child and have them put on these nice life jackets throughout their school years — until they turn 18! And BAM! The life jackets are taken way and these parents expect their child to know how to swim! How can they swim when they never have been taught? Rites of passage are to prepare one to become a swimmer in the ocean of life – when one has parents or adults who can show a child how to navigate the waters of life.
Whether it is in schools, colleges, work environment or family – everyone is going to be tested to discover the strength of character they posses – or they will be beat down and go into a shell and live life small. We are born gifted and because of that giftedness we should not be living such small, ordinary lives. In our various cultures it is mostly boys (used to be that is) given rites of passage and girls are like young antelope tossed into the sea of lions and they do not know (most of them) the basic protective moves to ward off an attacker, how to handle themselves in case of strangers approach or any other type of self defense protocol they need to know – this is unacceptable! All children should be given a course in protecting themselves against an attack of mugging or worse. To not help our children protect themselves to me is sad and we need to correct this. So what has this to do with bullying? Everything!
In life, no one escapes the passage of bullying OR of fighting for oneself OR the passage of taking a stand for what one believes in! If we do not learn this lesson of our own inner strength – we will constantly be bombarded with opportunities to do so – whether it is with a really nasty acquaintance, a nasty person just itching for a fight; or by one’s boss who intimates you and you are speechless to talk up for yourself! This is the way of life and it has not changed in over 6,000 years – yet we attempt to rid ourselves of such wisdom and every time we cannot. There is a something that has survived all these years and it is unwritten wisdom that persists given and handed down from person to person about raising children with the wit and wisdom of life through these ancient rites of passage that need to be rediscovered for the inner boon of what they possess.
Our young people desperately need a wiser hand to help raise them to understand the many aspects of life they are merely beginning to comprehend. Many times we, as adults, think that it is ok not to have deep talks with our children and heaven forbid we talk about anything other than grades and scholarships and sports. Our children are being born and must pass through these rites whether we like it or not and if we constantly coddle them and make them think that all is safe and warm, when in life it is not – I feel we are doing our children a great misdeed. Bullying is a power play and causes fear and an ugliness of self in the person who experiences it. However, how did the child learn it? What makes a person think that such behavior is ok to do? What messages are our children picking up and from whom and what movies are they being influenced by? Once we figure that out maybe we can stop such viciousness regarding bullying which has to stop in its current form.
With the advance of technology nowadays, the inner strength process is taking on a most dangerous turn, what with internet, webcams, TV watches, TV phones – news now takes only a few seconds to make it around the world. When our children receive various messages of intolerance, and think that people are abnormal if they are different from them; oftentimes our children will often misinterpret these ideas quite differently than an adult does. Due to the frontal cortex of teenager’s brain, the young minded person literately think that s/he have the right to take matters in their own hands and do so many foolish things – for fun – and wind up in trouble as they had NO hind sight to understand the results of their actions. I often say that to reason with a teenager is like trying to nail jello to a tree! It cannot be done! As adults it is up to US to be the example for our children and we must become that which we want to see in the world! The bullying will shop when adults stop doing it – showing it on TV or when a child learns of that inner strength that allows her or him to stand in their truth and become the shero or hero in their own lives.
What is going on is not rocket science – it is simply an ignorance of the idea that we are separate one from the other when in truth we are not; we all breathe the same air, we all have the same heartbeat; we all are living and walking on a planet that is spinning at 60,000 miles per hour and we act like it is nothing! It has to stop. Gone should be the days of if it ain’t happening to me it’s none of my business; gone should be the days of each one for one’s self; gone should be the days of separate but equal – we should now raise up and stand up for the right of our children to be educated without fear; to grow up with tolerance, compassion and understanding of diversity; and to finally become wise adults that can weather the storms of life without resorting to bullying another person!
Bullying has gone too far, the children doing the deed should be punished – at the same time I feel I am being punished and have let these young folk down – for every one’s life affects mine. I need to do more to change and a better human being full of the compassion and love of humanity that our spiritual leaders from every tradition have lived and spoken about. When are we going to stand up and say enough is enough -after all our children have been bullied and bloodied and killed by committing suicide? I certainly hope not. It is time now for the adults of this country to stand up and pledge to become better than we are now – better human beings – human beings who care and want the best for everybody in this country and in the world. Rites of passage are inevitable; dying for them is optional.
I stand in the sand and draw the line and say to you stand up for change and help each one of us reach out to help all our children become wiser about life so they can grow up strong, wise and with an deep insight into life that is compassionate strong and true. The bullying has got to stop – let each one of do what we can in our sphere of influence to help make a difference in our world. Are you with me? Miss