“Do not be afraid.” This is one of the most repeated phrases in more than three thousand years of Scriptural history. Today’s equivalent is, “It’s going to be okay.” Everyone seems to say that when someone’s going through a tough time. “It’s okay.”
The helplessness felt by those who find themselves in overwhelming circumstances feels very real. It’s difficult to remember when your mind, body and emotions are reeling from something you cannot control, that peaceful resolution is always an option. It may take more work, and more time, in order to resolve an issue that is fraught with power-struggles and anxiety, but given time and perspective, the real issue can be identified and the conflict resolved. Notice I said it “can”. I did not say it “will”.
It takes willingness on both sides for an issue to be resolved in a positive light. Instead of “compromise” where each give up a little in order to come to agreement, I’m speaking of “collaboration,” which is a win-win outcome. More labor intensive and requiring more time, the collaborative effort deals with the root issue and resolves it in a way that both sides are satisfied. This can happen when the issue is truly “the issue.”
With power-struggles, political agendas and manipulative bullying, there is neither collaboration nor compromise — there are only vendettas, coercion and blackmail.
I have been a victim of bullying for more than five decades. We all have at some level. Bullying is learned. It falls into the category of “lack” mentality. If there is never enough (love, money, attention, power, or stuff) then the mentality must be, that in order to thrive and survive in this miserable mental world that is my reality, I must either be without, or I must squash another and take what is theirs, whether they have it yet or not. I must threaten and use both mental and emotional cruelty, and sometimes physical violence, to get what I must have in order to relieve my mental misery – a misery created by my “lack”-filtered thinking.
My earliest memory of being bullied was at about two years old, reaching through a fence to touch the hand of another older girl in friendship and curiosity. I got my arm twisted in return. I never forgot the shock of it (obviously).
Bullying among siblings is extremely common, and I didn’t escape that one either. Parents learn to bully their children into desirable behavior, and the learning process continues. School encounters reinforce who gets status in the class and who gets the rewards. I was one who got good marks in school, and often found myself disliked, taunted, and put down for anything from my grade point average to my lack of promiscuity. The shock of the two-year-old twisted arm event repeated itself throughout my life.
Now, some fifty years later, I reflect on what I have seen in both mature adult and child-centered communities. It rears it’s ugly head and presses down hard on those who are different, who stand out or who have potential to gain what others desire. In the last few days I have seen, heard about and witnessed these aggressive, cruel tactics from people who are of the age and education (some even licensed therapists) screaming “Do it! Do it!” to a group of followers who are enjoying a cruel and bitter takeover for their own power’s sake. If there were truly issues to be resolved, there would be peaceful dialog and work toward resolution and improvement. Unfortunately, the most outspoken of the two sides are now seen as leaders in the conflict. Many others are being hurt by reputation threats and by obvious and bitter blackmail tactics. This is not about the issue. This is about a sense of lack.
Adults acting like schoolyard bullies, taunting and hurting those on the sidelines, and those who made mistakes in judgment, are deplorable. This mistreatment is not right, and can never be said to be right. It is not forward-movement into a better resolution. It is hurtful, cruel enjoyment of tearing down one’s fellow human beings. In their taunting the message lies clear: “Be afraid. Be very afraid!”
I return to my roots and the truth that I know to be true. There is no lack. There is only perceived lack. Every issue can be resolved with time and effort when the issue is really the issue. Cruelty should never have a part in it.
I leave you here with 3,000 years of tradition, 50 years of lived experience, and one of my favorite quotes: “Everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.”
Do not be afraid.