Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Have you noticed the increased attention to harassment, intimidation, and bullying in these modern times? It's not like these problems haven't been around since Og and Mog duked it out on the savannah, but we're trying to improve detection of bullies as well as how we deal with them.
Religion is not very helpful, if you agree with the philosophy that one does not answer bullying with a like show of force. Jesus may have said "turn the other cheek," but he also upset the tables in the temple. And then there's Sampson, David and Goliath, and any number of warrior kings in the Old Testament.
Some pantheons have a God of War. Mars is one. I would invite Him for an interview on this burning issue, but alas, He burns. Last time He visited, He torched a perfectly good porch rocker, one that had belonged to my departed granny.
I'm thinking about bullies just now because rumor has it that Fred Phelps, founder of the notorious "God Hates Fags" Westboro Baptist Church, has been moved into hospice care. Now there's a bully for you. How do we handle a guy like that? This is the question I mulled this afternoon during my 4.5-mile hike home from work.
Psychologists say that you should never counter a bully with a like show of force, that it only reinforces bullying behavior. It's true that bullies usually pick on someone smaller than they are. Bullies also tend to run in groups where they can support one another. Meeting them an eye for an eye is a dicey proposition.
And yet, to me (and this is only my opinion, endorsed by Mars and other warlike deities) the best defense against bullies is a good counter-punch.
In my stripling days there wasn't a vice-principal in charge of anti-bullying tactics at my middle school. A gang of bullies set their sights on beating the crap out of me and warned me they were going to do it. I set my dog on them. And that mutt did not suffer fools. A few throaty growls was all it took for me never to be bullied again. The bullies continued to hate me, but they sure kept their distance.
It seems to me that our nation's way of dealing with Fred Phelps has been a certain measure of sensible counter-bullying. I don't know that any blows have been exchanged between the WBC and the sizable counter-crowds it draws to important events, but you've got to admit that a bunch of leather-clad bikers waving American flags and riding Harleys sure do look intimidating.
Bullies can trample your sense of self and your sense of security. The fact that they take their greatest pleasure from exploiting your weakness is just sickening. So, how do we deal with people holding posters that say "God gave you cancer! Hooray for cancer!" outside an oncology clinic?
I only speak for myself here. And for Mars. You just don't suffer this shit. I'm sorry. I know that all the research shows that mediation is the word. I know that wars have been started when two groups of bullies get active against one another. Sadly, that is our human condition, and I (just me and Mars) believe that bullies cannot be stopped by anything more than a stronger showing of force.
Yes, yes, there's Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and they are heroes. But there are also our ancient deities who say, "Stand up for yourself, get others to help you, don't suffer the fools."
I guess I'm not the kind to turn the other cheek. It hurts to be slapped. Why take another blow?
Fred Phelps, you are lying on your deathbed suffering because God hates you. Yes, you, bully. Hand me that American flag, I'm riding out.