Were you ever bullied as a child? The world seems to be divided into two distinct camps: the bullies and the recipients of bullyism.
Unfortunately, the art of bullying often extends into adulthood. Little bullies become big bullies and big bullies eventually turn into old bullies. And there's nothing more unbecoming than an old bully.
I was never a fighter, never aggressive, and never an instigator of trouble - but I learned one thing at an early age:
if you back down and passively turn the other cheek, you're a jackass.
My father was not only a bully, he was the most viciously violent and abusive person I've ever known. My terror of him not only ravaged my entire childhood - it extended well into adulthood. I was so completely, overwhelmingly consumed with fear of him that I would have never even considered fighting back.
When I was nineteen, my father flew into a rage over a trivial matter (trivial things always sparked him). He choked me into unconsciousness and knocked me through a sliding glass door. It took some time to physically recover - - but soon after that incident I got his handgun, sneaked into his bedroom late at night, and intended to kill him.
Rationality eventually assuaged the rage, and I lost my courage. Instead, I took off for Hollywood and learned the fine art of being streetwise and feigning toughness.
I am inherently very timid, passive, and completely unobtrusive - but there are two things that ignite an intense fury in my reticent nature: being bullied or being pummeled with unwarranted criticism. I blame both of these afflictions on my father, who was a champion bully and a relentless criticizer.
I have an unwholesome - and potentially dangerous - habit of immediately attacking bullies and criticizers. If someone throws a handful of horse crap at me, I'll toss a shovelful of elephant shit right back. I certainly don't endorse this reaction, but it's unwittingly become part of my nature.
Junior High School. Anaheim, California. I was eleven years old in the seventh grade (nearly two years younger than most of my classmates).
I was constantly bullied by a smart ass named Elliot - who was a pompous, vain, decidedly effeminate bore.
I was tall and skinny - but Elliot was extremely tall and skinny. He looked like a swishy anemic sunflower. One fateful day, I'd had enough of his condescending crap. I gave him an enthusiastically hard push and - to my amazement and his astonishment - he went down like the Hindenburg. Right in the mud. He never bullied me again.
I felt a keen sense of accomplishment....and unexpected power.
A decade Later:
I happened to be in downtown Los Angeles at night. Hollywood can be tough. Downtown L.A. is brutal - even in the daylight.
I was just leaving the public library on 5th Street. Somewhere, in the heavy nightshadows outside, a small swarthy dude came out of nowhere and demanded me to turn over my wallet.
After initial shock and disbelief, I got angry. This little shit wasn't going to bully me. I instinctively pulled out my (safely concealed) switchblade and somehow managed to slash his hand.
Then I ran faster than a bunny out of hell and quickly ditched him. I think the guy was drugged. His reactions were damn slow.
L.A. Public Library
scene of the crime
Switchblades were illegal in California (and undoubtedly still are). I had purchased mine at a dubious place in Mexico. I did things back then that I wouldn't even dream of doing now.
Unfortunately, the ugly art of schoolyard bullying and street punk bullying has now extended into cyber bullying. Cyber bullies are rampant and especially bold because it's safe and anonymous. We've all encountered them, or at least saw the viciousness of their handiwork.
One only needs to scan the comments on YouTube to see how shockingly vile, vulgar, and cruel humanity has become. And, of course, this viciousness has infiltrated blogging (I can certainly attest to that).
I prefer to encounter bullies in person - so the raw light of day can illuminate their pathetic insecurities.
I have many of my own flaws and faults - and there are things about myself that I've always loathed. But I have never had the need to belittle others in order to inflate my ego. And I am never purposefully cruel, caustic, or condescending. I'm a sensitive sweetheart most of the time.....but push me off the curb and I'll push you over a cliff. I've been taught by masters.
There's no specific reason for this post. I'm not presently being bullied - I just happened to be thinking about the subject.
And I realized that bullying - in one way or another - starts in childhood and extends into adulthood. We're bullied on many levels: by employers, relatives, neighbors, spouses, customer service representatives, even "friends".
Turning the other cheek is admirable, and probably the most safe and effective form of resistance to bullies. But it's not my style. Hot Hungarian blood runs through my veins....and bitter past experiences have eroded my power of resistance and sharpened my methods of defense.
I seldom turn the other cheek.