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Posts Tagged ‘Bullying’

Today is Anti-Bullying or Pink Shirt Day.3191069_f520

According to an article by Sherri Gordon, there are “9 Consequences of Name-Calling” (http://bullying.about.com/od/Effects/a/9-Consequences-Of-Name-calling.htm):

  • Erodes a victim’s sense of self
  • Causes kids to compromise beliefs and values
  • Affects sense of well being
  • Impacts a person’s identity
  • Opens the door to violence
  • Encourages internal criticism
  • Impacts mood
  • Affects mental health
  • Affects physical health

It is said that it takes anywhere from 2:1-6:1 positive messages to make up for one negative. Studies have shown that our human brains respond differently to negative messages than to positive ones, and some have even referred to how our brains receive negative messages as being like velcro, and that is why they stick, and re-play in our minds over and over.

As I read through those 9 consequences, I was struck by the first … Erodes a victim’s sense of self … and how that one consequence really impacts, or even creates the following eight. The words that others say about us, can change how we see ourselves, therefore impact the confidence (or lack of) that we communicate to others, therefore how we act in our relationships, our jobs, our future, therefore it impacts the direction our lives takes, therefore impacting our physical and mental health.

24c820409837ce84010841897dc8aeecBut God calls us by the names of a Creator, a heavenly Father, and the names He has given to us are the names that affect our well being in a very different direction. He, our Redeemer, claims possession over us as His finest creation, His pièce de résistance, His child, the one who He loves.

Like Steve Jobs with Apple, like Bill Gates with Microsoft, like Sam Walton with Walmart, like Dave Thomas with Wendy’s, like Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company …

God puts every effort into loving and protecting His creation … you and I!

He has named us His …

… and the names that He calls each of us are imprinted into our very souls, with the power to change how we see ourselves and therefore therefore it impacts the direction our lives takes, therefore impacting our physical and mental health, and even our eternal life.

The sticks and stones don’t break our bones…

The sticks held our Redeemer until His final breath, and the stones were hurled at Him …

So that we might be called children of God (Galatians 3:26).

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Today, February 29, 2012 (where I live), is Pink Shirt Day (pinkshirtday). It is a day when we are encouraged to wear a pink shirt, in support of the movement to stop bullying. I LOVE this day! I LOVE the outward expression to say, I will not tolerate bullying. Somehow, in putting on a pink shirt, says that you give bullying more than just lip service, but that you are willing to show how you feel, and think, publicly.

I will be wearing pink today.

We have all experienced bullying. Whether it was ‘just’ a little teasing when you were in preschool, or outright threats against your life, as a teen, you still remember it. You still remember where you were, what you were doing, who was with you, and maybe even what you were wearing. And you remember all of this because the bullying caused a trauma in your brain, and the scar of it’s bruising is permanent.

That is how bullying works, it is permanent. Even those who think that we make too much of bullying, can recall with perfect memory, a time when they were bullied. Maybe they feel it strengthened their character, maybe they feel it did not alter the course of their lives, and maybe they are right … but they do still remember it.

I love that media sources are fully behind this movement to eliminate bullying. But … I am not sure that they are fully committed to it.

Anyone who has heard news sources speak of pro athletes, celebrities, or other world personalities, knows that their presence in our society makes them fodder for harassment, gossip, and denigration. Somehow, in our society, we have decided that bullying is bad, but only if the one who gets bullied is not rich.

I disagree. How many wealthy public personalities have suffered at the hands of the stalking and bullying media? How many have lost their right to privacy? How many have lost their physical lives? The ‘reason’ for the bullying that they receive is usually that, they are public figures, and this is just the downside to all the perks that they get. Hum, if a student council president got bullied, would the bullier be able to use that excuse to justify his/her behavior? I think not.

Our media seems to have a Teflon coating. They seem to be able to dish out the harassment, gossip and denigration, but it is never their responsibility for what they say. They would say that they are simply giving the public what we want to know, about these famous people. As though it is our (or the media’s) right to invade the lives of others.

There is truth to their argument, too. The TV shows, the magazines, the websites, and the pictures of famous people that we ingest as a society are extensive. We seem, as a society, to have an insatiable appetite for the joys, sorrows and downfalls of the famous.

Maybe we need to not buy those magazines, watch those programs, subscribe to those websites that feature pictures and stories of individuals. We need to recognize the reality that bullying has probably been done to get the pictures, and the stories are often full of presumptions, and ‘anonymous’ tips from ‘insiders’. Maybe we need to take responsibility for our ‘second hand bullying’ by viewing and reading these materials.

Maybe wearing a pink shirt, while denigrating the players on our favorite sports team, or reading the latest on ‘Brangelina’ in a magazine is actually rather … hypocritical? Maybe we need to start looking at celebrities through the same lens that we would want to be viewed. Maybe we need to “do to others as we would want them to do to us” (Luke 6:31) … THAT is the golden rule that would end bullying forever, and for everyone!

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Normally I do not think of my errors as regrets, but as mistakes that have taught me, and have caused me to grow. Lately, though, a regret from the past has been … haunting me. I awake, and think of it. I lay my head down at night, and think of it.

The regret I refer to is one that, if I were to speak of it when face to face with another, my eyes would tear up, my throat would swell, and my sorrow be felt throughout my body. My regret is for an error I made, when I did not speak up for someone who was being taken advantage of, someone who was being harassed, someone who was being bullied. I … regret my lack of action.

This regret is not one from my distant past. It is not one from my childhood or teen years. It is not from when my kids were little. It is a full blown adult regret. I could have stood up for another, I should have stood up for another, and I didn’t.

I expect that there is purpose in my remembering it lately. Maybe, the lesson for me is that I need to ensure that I never repeat my inaction. I need to ensure that I do not keep silent when I see or hear others being bullied. I need to be on the lookout for times when I might be able to speak up, for those who are being treated poorly.

When I think of my learning this lesson, I think of Isaiah 43:18-19 (to the right). Although I could never forget the regret I actively feel for my past mistake, I believe that God is doing something new in my heart, and in my life through the practice of not remaining silent. And with each action I take, I feel new, I feel renewed … as though by turning away from my past lack of action, I am being refreshed like a dried up river being watered in a dry wasteland.

Doing what is right … it can be hard to make the first step, but, once you do it, you (and, for me, the person you are speaking up for) will be energized by your right action.

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