Is bullying nothing more than the shaping of collective beliefs and behaviours within families, within workplaces, within neighbourhoods and within society at large ?

opinionandcommentBy Cindy Hunter

August 29, 2016



Whilst enjoying a cup of mint tea and reading my book the other day at a local coffee shop, I happened to overhear some distressing comments from one of the gals seated at the adjacent table. Sweetly and discreetly (so she thought), she dissed a fellow patron of the establishment with the following comments: “Look at that woman pushing the stroller. See the makeup on her face? My heart breaks for the wee one. How can a mother who spends so much time primping possibly give her child the attention it deserves? I swear, I could just cry.”

On overhearing the commentary, what I felt at that moment was not a grossly misplaced, anxious sense of concern for the child (who appeared to me to be comfortable, content and in no distress whatsoever). Nor did I usher in any feelings of condescension or disdain for the mother. What I did feel was sadness and disgust at the uncalled for remarks – the likes of which are all too common.

Bullying a

The emotional hit for a person being bullied is incredible. It has led to suicide particularly within the teenage cohort.

A woman’s right to wear makeup (or not) is just that – a right. Every woman has the right to choose how she wishes to present to the world. If that means she dresses in blue jeans and T-shirt every single day, she’s entitled to do so. If, rather, she clads herself in haute couture, more power to her. Whether she’s a walking, talking advertisement for her favourite tattoo parlour and/or chooses to shave her head and cultivate grass up there is really no one else’s concern.

As someone who has spent decades in the work force and made an individual choice to apply facial paints every morning, I can vouch for the fact that slapping on the foundation, mascara, eye liner, shadow, lipstick and whatever else becomes such a fast-paced part of the routine that it might use up all of ten minutes. No kidding. It really is that quick when you do it every single day.

Let’s assume for a moment, hypothetically, that the mother of a young child is a knitting fanatic – so much so much that she partakes in the activity for a good forty-five minutes or so every single day, ten minutes here, ten minutes there. Maybe the bulk of her knitting is accomplished when her spouse is spending cherished one-on-one time with the youngster.

How many other women do you suppose would begrudge her that daily forty-five minutes of knitting based on the trumped up excuse that it was taking time away from her small child?

Here’s a hint: None.

Here’s why: You’d be hard pressed to find any woman who perceives knitting as a threat.

Bullying group c

A dramatic way of making a point: how many of the people in the photograph actually bully people?

Smooth talking troublemakers, along with their attendant, multitudinous, gullible shills, would have you believe that nonchalant, slickly packaged hatefulness (as per the above example) is no big deal – in fact harmless, really.

The reality is that it’s a form of bullying.

Such malevolence, in no small measure, and even though perpetrated behind the target’s back, plays a role in shaping collective beliefs and behaviours within families, within workplaces, within neighbourhoods and within society at large – which is, of course, the intent from the get-go.

We hear a lot about bullying among youth, but bullying is also rife within our adult population. For instance, in the specific realm of workplace bullying, Dr. Heinz Leymann, a research pioneer in the field, identified workplace bullying as ‘endemic in work forces’ throughout the world. As well, he estimated that 10% of those bullied take their own lives.

Whether the target is a young person or an adult, regardless of race or religion, bullying is bullying, the ultimate goal of which is to strip the victim of all dignity, in other words, to annihilate someone’s quality of life, or even, literally, the life itself.

Bullying can be kindled by something as seemingly ho hum as a critical remark about someone’s appearance – but the remark is oftentimes executed with a view to heap on subsequent helpings of covert ridicule, in concert with other means of degradation (i.e. ostracization), at any opportunity, until the desired lynch mob mentality is produced. At this juncture, the tiny mound of burning kindling morphs into a grotesque, yet (for many) scintillating pyre.

Bullies – whether Ph.D. wielding, illiterate or somewhere in the middle – excel at the dark art of fabricating and promulgating excuses to scapegoat. The excuses don’t have to be clothing or makeup related. They can be as simplistic as criticizing the expression on someone’s face when that person is merely going about her own business or as brazen as spreading preposterous rumours, based on abject conjecture, about the person’s sex life or level of adult beverage consumption.

Bullying types d

Are you doing any of this? If you are – do you know why?

Are you one of the cultivated abettors and you just happen to be single, lonely and in need of a mate? Have no fear. Your ringleader will spend every waking minute of every day for as long as it takes to unearth and introduce you to your perfect potential spouse. Voila! Here he is.

The favour is essentially a bribe, administered as insurance that you don’t fall prey to an attack of conscience regarding your personal role in the persecution of the target.

Bullies look the same as you and me. Bullies will effectively hoodwink you into perceiving them as veritable pillars of society and as being compassionate to the point of saintliness. (Crocodile tears in church anyone?)

When presented with evidence of their bullying, bullies will often audaciously retort, “Me? Bully? Why would I?”


So what can be done?

Student being bullied by a group of students

Student being bullied by a group of students; happens every day in high chools – how do you put an end to it?

Each of us is sole proprietor of an individual mind. Very often, if we pause and tune in to our innermost knowing selves, we can discern between someone’s legitimate grievance against a third party versus when the complainant is aiming to stir the proverbial pot.

Rather than accept those (ahem) ‘friendly’, seductive invites to hop on board the Bully Bandwagon, it sure would be nice for those of us with a conscience to stop taking the bait and to collectively evolve down a path of maturity, authentic respect, and common sense.

The shade of her lipstick evoked an image of lacquered eggplant. Ultra dramatic. And it looked gorgeous on her.

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2 comments to Is bullying nothing more than the shaping of collective beliefs and behaviours within families, within workplaces, within neighbourhoods and within society at large ?

  • Zaffi

    Excellent article abd observations Miss Hunter.

  • Janedon

    Bullying & hatred of “The other”(anyone Different) IS passed down in families & done among “Friends” so as to “Fit IN”–
    I thing the Main reason it’s become more common & accepted once again
    IS-We have leaders(political & bus people) who espouse hate for political(Fame)& MONEY—
    People in general—Will copy The Famous/the rich & the powerful without thinking thing through–