As believers and followers of the Prince of Peace, we are all called to bring peace to the world around us. Start by respecting each person you encounter, especially when others are not showing that respect. The Catechism paragraph 2507 teaches us, “Respect for the reputation and honor of persons forbids all detraction and calumny in word or attitude.”
So you’re against unjust war and aren’t a violent person? But, do you respect the reputation and honor of each person you know, see, or have heard of? Does your attitude or speech cause little battles?
In this video, the two girls are clearly bullying their peer, and each adult steps up in his or her own way to intercede in the bullied girl’s defense. These adults guide the other two girls to a better understanding of their actions, share a delightful talent to spread a smile, and encourage the girl to keep being herself. A mother even asks if the girl wants to sit by her on the bus to protect her from the other girls’ harsh words.
This kind of bullying is an obvious problem. It’s easily spotted, and adults, such as those in the video, thankfully step up to end it. You have probably been taught yourself in school not to bully your peers, but bullying isn’t age-restricted. It doesn’t end after grade school. It doesn’t end with high school or college. It doesn’t even end after your first job or retirement.
Bullying just becomes disguised in the “adult world”. For example, a boss may bully an employee to work overtime unnecessarily or threaten to take away a job without just grounds. “Adult world” bullying can be found in workplaces, homes, family or friend groups, and just about anywhere. Just as with children in school, bullying should be ended. Step up, whether you know the people involved or not.
Are you able to recognize the bullying you are called to end? Any use of force or power against others to manipulate their feelings or actions is bullying. You never know why a person is a bully, perhaps the bully was once bullied themselves and needs to experience that compassion of Christ. Bullies, adults or children, must learn what Saint Ambrose taught: “No one heals himself by wounding another.”
By accepting responsibility to spread peace, you are not just seeking to end bullying; you are seeking to establish peace in the lives of even the bullies of the world. You are becoming the messenger of peace to them, providing an example of how to act. Don’t wait for another person to stand up. Say a short prayer and let Christ act through you for the sake of every person involved – the bully, the bullied, the bystanders who may find inspiration in your actions, and yourself.
No matter your age or your position in society or your relationship with the bullied/bullier(s), it is your responsibility to step up, especially if no one else will. It is difficult because bullies are intimidating, especially when they have power over your job or other relationships in your life.
Sometimes your actions against bullying will cause you to be ostracized or bullied, too, but don’t let those possibilities keep you from attempting to bring peace for another. The power of peace is stronger than any bully. You are responsible for your actions and for your silence in situations that you’re needed to intervene.
Every situation is different, so discern how to deal with it with care. People in the world need to experience Christ through others more often, so remember that you are the hands and feet of Christ.
Saint Teresa of Avila explains, “Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.”
Self Reflection Questions:
1. Do you think you have bullied someone unintentionally or intentionally?
2. When have you enabled bullying with your silence or even encouragement? What could you have done differently?
3. Is there a time in your life when you have been bullied? How did that make you feel?
4. Have you ever stood up for someone who was being bullied? What was the outcome?
5. How do you accept responsibility for bringing peace to the world? Do you follow the Prince of Peace in every way you can?
1. If you were at a bus stop and overheard the conversation of the girls in the video, how would you have responded?
2. If you saw an adult bullying a child over their sports performance, what should you do in this situation as a child, as an adult, or as that child’s coach?
3. If you were at a party and you witnessed a person harassing another person what could you do?