C. Lane Guenzel
Bullying the Best
I can hear small arms fire going off overhead. The smell of blood and smoke is almost overwhelming. The confusion is sporadically punctuated by the horror of witnessing the destruction through the ever changing fog of smoke and dust, but movement is the only safety that I can find. A hundred yards to my left, a mortar round sprays shrapnel and dirt into the air as it impacts the deck. If there was ever a time for movement, it’s now. My best friend is right by my side, and I know that no matter how bad it gets, he’ll be there with me, come hell or high water. We are marines, and we live for this, but part of me is still amazed by that fact. It hasn’t been an easy road, and it’s only going to get tougher, and yes, I am afraid, but I am ready. Like so many others, the adversity that has come my way my entire life has allowed me to be strong in the face of my fear and continue forward no matter what. I am capable of functioning with my fear, simply because I have felt fear before. I have learned to recognize and deal with my fear. I am strong simply because I was once weak, and the road has not been easy.
While most children will not grow to adulthood to experience combat in terms like these, many will be subjected to crippling fear. For many, this first fear will be of a bully. In this country, bullying is an ongoing and prevalent problem. Despite the best efforts of well-intentioned adults, anti-bullying campaigns and programs, and interventions, bullying continues to haunt and hurt the youth of today’s society. Perhaps it’s time to approach the problem differently and instead of focusing on the problem, we should focus on a solution. Perhaps, this type of adversity could actually be a good thing for our children if it’s handled in the right light. Take a walk amongst combat marines in any trench, battlefield, or base anywhere in the world. Speak to a thousand celebrities or prominent public figures. Talk to children in any schoolyard. Interview those on a therapist’s couch. Question the inmates of our prison systems. In any of these places one will find a very common denominator. In any of these places, one can easily find a victim. Someone who has been brutalized by another for being different is always close at hand. But the question is, why do some seem to thrive from being bullied when others simply don’t? How is it that some not only overcome being bullied, but use it to their advantage while other individuals are scarred for life? There is a surprising lesson to be learned at the hands of a bully. That lesson is strength.
In adult society, the lessons that we learned as children stay with us. We are taught to always wash our hands before eating. We are taught to always wear clean underwear, always use our turn signal, “stop, drop, and roll” and to “always dial 911.” We are taught at an early age to share our toys, respect our elders and superiors, always use our manners, and if we see lights flashing behind us to always pull over. As adults, we are subject on a daily basis to thousands of small lessons we learned as children. As adults, we are constantly inundated with events that require us to use these lessons.
But what about adversity? How can we ever learn to deal with bad bosses, rude or abusive coworkers or spouses, or seemingly overwhelming obstacles if we are never taught to adapt to, and overcome them? Our immune system needs to be exposed to a virus to learn how to keep us healthy, so logic dictates that we need some adversity to help us learn to deal with the punishing physical and emotional effects of adversity later in life.
While very few would argue that bullying is an ongoing problem in the U.S. there are a wide range of statistics available that tend to disagree with each other. There is a wide range of variation in the statistics associated with bullying and no real agreement to numbers.