Most people think of bullying as either physical attacks, or at the least a loud verbal attack. But those are just the tip of the iceberg. We watched American Ninja Warrior last night, and one of the contestants has an autistic brother, and he talked about bullying last night. He was being bullied by people who claimed not to like him, and that is hard, but to me what is harder is being bullied by those who do, or at least mostly act like they do, like you. And it happens. And it only makes you question everything. People think of the bullied as weak. And often, with more subtle forms of bullying, think of them as not very smart, or not observant, and as unaware that they’re being bullied (diminished, disrespected). But that is typically the opposite of the truth. Constant victims of bullying become hyper-vigilant. They notice every subtlety of the differences in treatment between them and others.
Bullying is any tactic intended to diminish another. It may be purposeful, or it may even just be part of an unconscious reaction to someone who is seen as less important. Bullying is shunning, it is not answering questions because it would be too much work (and what does it matter, anyhow, so-and-so isn’t important). Bullying is any time when consistently someone is not shown the respect that would make them fully human, that would allow them to stand upon equal footing with the others around them. The “survivors” of bullying are not weak, they are in fact very strong, having had to deal with not only the trials of every day life, but those trials within an unfavorable and unfriendly framework. It is something like a form of Chinese water torture. It does not directly kill you, but is unending, and pervasive.
Each person on this planet is an equal. Each is deserving of the same respect and consideration. When someone is different, or awkward, or odd, or handicapped, or has a mental illness, or any condition which impairs them in any way, that does not make them less of a person. That does not allow them to be disrespected, or looked down upon. In fact, it is those people who must work harder just to live, just to deal with each day, just to accomplish things many take for granted. Not to make them heroes, but to respect them for their fortitude, strength and the effort it takes just to live their lives. We are on this planet as a team. Each member of that team deserves the full respect, and more than just respect, the support, of the other members.