This is a true story about bullying.
I hope this will help to bring some comfort and relief to the victims of bullying and their loved ones.
It is also my hope that at least one bully will read this and repent.
It was now 12th Grade and my despair during 8th Grade was long gone.
I was still friendless but the cruel and relentless taunting had long since stopped.
There are a number of possible reasons for this.
- I was ‘Captain’ of the High School swim team which afforded me a degree of ‘social rank’
- My social skills/intuition deficit while not improved, had not worsened either
- But the intellectual gap between me and my former tormentors was now very exaggerated!
- Although we never spoke, they seemed to have become intimidated by this
They were now struggling with basic, rote learned trigonometry.
- I was in the gifted group being taught Freshman College math
- and had already been offered a place at an Ivy League College
- I was almost free!
I had also accepted that for reasons unknown, I was a social outcast, but I no longer cared.
- This had taken away much of the power of the other boys to hurt my feelings.
Struck by compassion
One day during lunch break I noticed a gang taunting a Grade 11 boy. I’ll call him David.
- I had noticed this developing over several months
- I was initially quite indifferent to it
- The school bullies would routinely select a boy for psychological bullying, then move on to the next victim
- Furthermore, as a social outcast I was in no real position to do anything
This day was different.
- I had noticed David becoming more and more dejected
- I recognized the signs of despair in his expression and his posture
- His face had become grey, with the slow but relentless erosion of his dignity and humanity
- I could feel his pain
- He was dying inside!
- I wasn’t sure how much more he could take
- He was in the Grade 11 gifted group but didn’t do sports; he just didn’t have enough ‘points’
- The fact that I could see and feel this with my impaired ‘Theory of Mind’ will be the subject of another post!
The day the Earth stood still
With no warning and no rehearsal, a powerful feeling of outrage seemed to spread through my entire body, in what seemed like a split second.
This was uncharted territory for me.
- My feelings in 8th Grade had been quite different
- Dread, despair, misery
- My outrage here was empowering, liberating and energizing
I turned to the bully who had just taunted/insulted David and looked him clean in the eye.
- I then asked him a very short, simple, open question
- about their treatment of and behavior towards David
- I then turned to each bully in turn and looked them straight in the eye too
- Without saying a word
- You could have heard a pin drop
Everyone, not just the bullies, fell into what seemed like a very long silence.
- But was probably no more than 10 seconds
All of the bullies were visibly shocked, some looked frightened.
I was acting purely on instinct.
- All I had done was hold up a mirror
- Causing the bullies to see David for what he really was – Human!
- There was also the added humiliation of a gang of bullies being confronted and defeated by a lone boy
- A boy who was himself a bullying victim a few years earlier!
- I imagine they felt completely emasculated
I then slowly, calmly and deliberately, announced to the gang, while turning to look at each of them in turn.
- ‘This ends NOW!’
The silence then resumed.
The last resort
I should mention here that I was ready to knock each and every member of that gang to the ground if necessary.
- and they knew it!
I had the build and I had the strength.
- and they knew that too!
I could feel the adrenalin rush, but my mind remained calm and my thinking clear.
I should also volunteer that fighting is not in my nature.
- The few fights I did have were all at school
- Only after I had been taunted beyond breaking point
- I always went for the ring leader and this always ended the bullying
But on this occasion I never even had to raise my voice.
I had ‘subdued the opponent without fighting’
- applying the teachings of Sun Tzu (The Art of War) before I had even heard of him!
David and I walked away and grabbed a couple of sodas.
- We talked but I mostly listened
- We were friends for a while but then drifted apart
- I never saw him again after I graduated High School
Nobody ever bothered David again and the school bullies kept a very safe distance from me.
David also went on to attend an Ivy League College.
He then completed a Masters degree and became a very successful and highly sought after International Consultant.
I have no idea how things would have turned out for David if I hadn’t stepped in that day.
- Maybe he would have found the strength to survive, in despair, as I did in 8th Grade
- Perhaps he would have found the courage to face them down?
What I do know is that I did the right thing because;
If not me, who? – If not now, when?
This is dedicated to all of the victims of bullying and in Special Memory of those whose stories have ended in tragedy.