Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Provoking a Bully

by Kathy Foust

My father and I have had quite a rocky relationship. One part of that rockiness is the fact that our lifestyles are so different. To me, his world is black and white and only changes when he allows it to. My world has lots of grey areas with very little black and white. We have different morals and concepts. The fact that we get along so well now is due in no small part to the fact that we stopped putting these things in each others' faces.

While I'm a big fan of each person sticking to their beliefs and who they are, I also realize that there isn't any reason to shove those beliefs in anyone else's face unless they are trying to violate said beliefs. I think this is something that needs to be addressed by our school systems.

Lately it seems that everyone wants to be a member of some special interest group. This is especially true of teenagers who are trying to learn who they are and find their place in the world. Of course there is a need to belong. There is a need to flourish as the people we want to be. But, every action provokes a reaction. What is it you are looking to provoke?

Someone out there is going to get angry and say that I want people to hide who they are. Let me just make it clear that's not what I'm saying at all. But, I am saying that you should be prepared for consequences based on your surroundings.

When it comes to things like homosexuality in schools, there is going to be some flack. There's probably going to be some bullying. I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it's going to happen. As adults, we have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent anyone from getting hurt. But it can't just be one sided. For instance, just because you're homosexual does not mean that you need to be flagrant about it. When you are flagrant, you're asking for a response from people. And yes, homosexuality is going to offend some people. It's not a value that everyone upholds, nor do they need to. The fact is that it offends some people.

For instance, I don't want my son to see 2 men making out in the store. However, I don't really want him to see a man and woman making out either. I'm heterosexual so if I have my rathers, I'd rather him see only heterosexual interactions. I'd also rather that everyone have enough respect for the people around them to keep their bedroom activities where they belong- at home.

It's really very simple. If I love the color purple but I go to a school that is predominantly against the color purple, then I need to be prepared for a response when I wear it. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it. It simply means that my wearing that color is going to provoke a reaction.

Please, before you call someone a bully, ask yourself what reaction you provoked. No one has the right to hurt anyone else. You might see your actions as completely acceptable while others may see them as completely unacceptable. No one has to accept you except for you. If you think that everyone else needs to change their own values to suit yours, then you're just as bad as the people who want you to change to fit the image they have of what's right and wrong.

Pick your battles. If you don't want a reaction then don't provoke one. There are always going to be bullies out there and people with different opinions. Take some responsibility for your own actions and think about how they may impact other people. If you stick by what's right and you aren't infringing on anyone else, then you have solid ground to stand on if an altercation does occur.

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