….Do we have a bully within us? Does this dominating behaviour form part of our inherent human nature? Is it based on the array of negative emotions which we still harbour and have to come to grips with on our evolutionary path? Is bullying predominantly a male characteristic driven by testosterone? General observations might suggest this to be the case, however, depending on the definition of bullying, this view might be challenged.
It is within the character of a person to be a bully and what makes bullying so unpleasant, even dangerous, is the fact that the bullying tactics are mostly intentional. Lying, exaggerating or withholding information may be an aspect, a way of gaining a misplaced advantage.
Bullies also find ways to hold us at ransom. In politics this is regularly accompanied by unrealistic promises, displays of splendour and cheap appeals to peoples’ emotions. They love to paint a rosy picture of what we can expect from them, or they might threaten with unpleasant scenarios, demonstrating a lack of respect for the other person’s freedom and opinion.
During the 16th century the word ‘bully’ meant sweetheart and probably originated from the Dutch word ‘boel’ – lover or brother – or from the old German word ‘Buhle’ which means a ‘companion’. The meaning of many English words changed over time and in the process the word bully came to mean a ‘fine fellow’, then a ‘blusterer’ and finally a ‘harasser of the weak’ – which is what bullying more or less portrays nowadays. Harassing of the weaker is what it is all about and a bully can instinctively recognize potential victims.
I wonder if the original Dutch word ‘boel’ (for lover) has changed its meaning as a result of peoples’ experiences. In ‘romantic love’ bullying behaviour and manipulation can be used to solicit trust, to gain sexual favours, or to bind the other irrevocably to the relationship. It is the loving and trusting victim, not being able to recognize the bullying forces, probably misjudging them for concern, protectiveness or genuine love, who in the end gets hurt and ends up devastated in the process.
True love should be all-embracing; it can never be manipulative, demanding or intolerant. True love does not depend on what we receive – especially not in favours or material gains. It also should not depend on changing the other in order to comply with one’s own ideas and images ‒ how that person should think, communicate, be and behave – although this is a very common phenomenon. Love should not depend on what others can do for us, nor does genuine love develop through pity or charity and certainly not through calculated motives. As we stand at present, and with our limited awareness, these factors are more common than we think and the results are invariably painful.
In the animal world sex occurs when both parties are in agreement and rape is unheard of. Does this mean that animals experience a form of spiritual connection when choosing their partner or perform their mating rituals? Maybe for that short time they also experience a form of love. But what about pairs in the animal world that mate for life? They surely must experience a deep connection and if so, is their connection less problematic than ours is at times?
The recent financial meltdown and related practices in commerce also point to bullying. One has to wonder how the highly proclaimed free-market economy is able to fail the vast majority of its participants so spectacularly, while bringing such enormous and mindboggling benefits to a minuscule few amongst us.
Obviously all manner of crime, petty or serious, is part of the bullying agenda. Bullying is consequently not only happening at school or at the workplace; it has a much wider spectrum of applications, manifesting in all walks of life. History is full of examples: even in the last decade we saw unfortunate examples of national and international bullying, the disastrous consequences of which are now haunting us….