Tuesday, January 08, 2013

It's a bully's world

Bullies have shaped society since before humans developed language.

Bullying is the animal model for establishing dominance. As humans developed more complex thoughts and feelings they had to manage the more intricate relationships among bullies who had achieved varying levels of success occupying adjacent or overlapping territories. As our growing minds and collective experience added more and more data, humans developed many philosophies to try to reconcile the increasing collection of new discoveries and realizations.

At some point it became popular to forget our natural origins. After that we could try to hold ourselves to unrealistic standards, declaring we must control or forbid many of our natural compulsions. These were temptations from an evil entity bent on spoiling our relationship with the Supreme Bully, who would treat us handsomely if we behaved ourselves.

In recent years many cultures have adopted the idea that bullying should be discouraged. As one who played on both sides of that conflict at different times in different schools, I applaud the idea. I just wonder what unintended consequence we will spin off as a result. I would love for it to be all cooperation and acceptance and self improvement. I simply wonder how deleting a fundamental compulsion in our personalities will alter human institutions we have unwittingly based on it throughout our thoughtful existence. Everything we praise: brave warriors, law enforcement, holy martyrs on a cross, is based on the interaction between the bullies and the bullied. If no one ever pushed anyone else around we would be different from almost all other living things. Even plants try to grow taller than their neighbors.

Someone who is willing to push other people around has an automatic advantage over people who would prefer not to. This will make bullying a constant temptation. Some would even say that the will to dominate leads to high achievement. Who is going to argue against high achievement? So if you want to convince a potential bully that it's really wrong to feel that way you had better have a lot of good arguments to support your position. Otherwise you'll just end up beaten up and dunked in a toilet.

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