Random Responses (But are they, really?) to Things We Think About
Like Labeling and Bullying and Russian Trolls
By Jane Tawel
January 13, 2020
I have been both a bully and a victim of bullies. Don’t demure on my behalf; I have sisters and friends from Junior High who will tell you about what a bully I could be at times, and claiming I didn’t realize it or was “messed up” doesn’t change the truth. And I have definitely as a woman, been often the target of bullies who were either “just” attracted to me at the time or other times, were “just doing their job as a boss”.
But it intrigues me to observe the many and latest attempts to deal with bullying in our schools, and with our children, when we don’t seem all that concerned about bullying among adults or as represented as entertainment on our “boob-tubes” or big screens. I am concerned that we think we can teach children about not bullying when many of us are such bullies ourselves or support bullies who promise they will drag us along with them if we stand aside and watch, rather than protest or stop them. There are Hallmark-ish trending posts about teachers and adults doing things to help victims of bullies– so sweet, like all useless self-medicating panaceas — and what I think is this. All this save the children malarkey is just more smoke and mirrors to keep us from addressing the real bullies. The real bullies are the supposed “adults” in the room.
Unfortunately, there are so many adults who are bullies, and are either unaware or so used to calling their bullying something else that we have allowed ourselves the false hopes of justification in supporting these bullies. Bullies who are adults are everywhere, not just in governments, including those who are supposed to be teaching children, such as teachers, parents, and preachers. We need to start doing something about the adults who bully others by using their community-sponsored power for gain or just because they can bully others. And we desperately need to address those who make rules or treat others inappropriately and are still considered “nice” or “an authority” to be heeded or are just part of the “in-crowd”.
We need to stop lying to ourselves about guns and violence and prejudice that lead to racial profiling – all types of bullying. And in terms of school shootings, the big bully in the room of course, is the NRA and others who gain financially through a love of violence and greed, masquerading as freedom. This is the truth of American bullying today in schools, churches or government — it’s the adults, folks.
Children learn by watching and they model what we do. Children imitate us. We all need to start working on our own inner bullies and call other adults out on it. And for God’s sake, if you don’t want children to become bullies or victims of bullies, don’t vote for bullies.
On Labeling Others and Ourselves:
When I eat something, like a piece of fresh fruit or a vegetable, I TEAR OFF THE LABEL FIRST. Labels are not nourishing. Labels are not even real – they are symbols, representative of something that comes in from the outside and determines the worth of what is inside the label.
Labels are for products not people.
Labels are put on things to define them and to tell you their worth. I have never met a person who was either labeled or who labeled themselves that was, in fact, defined by that label. I have never met a “liberal” or a “conservative” or a “feminist” or an “evangelical” who WAS that label, part and parcel, from head to toe, and from mind to heart. Humans are far too complicated and messy and wonderful!– to be labeled with one word that defines them, or even by a couple of imprisoning words. People are as messy and metaphoric and as incredibly complex and un-label-able as the imagination can, well, imagine. People are as encyclopedic as words themselves.
If you are defining yourself with a single word or maybe a word for your politics and a word for your religion and a word for your status or personality or culture, then you are letting the marketplace define your worth with a label. You are selling yourself short.
I am not any label stuck on my outside. My roles of mother, partner, friend, teacher, worker, seeker, woman, etc., are far too large to be one and only one thing.
I am not the label, I am the piece of fruit. I am sometimes lovely, sometimes bruised; sometimes tart, sometimes sweet; sometimes healthy and nourishing and sometimes still hanging for dear-life onto the Tree of Life, hanging from my little brain stem, un-yet, unformed into wholeness, still waiting to grow into ripeness.
Labeling allows us to box someone in, to put them on a shelf. Labeling is too flimsy, too sticky, to contain the reality of all that I am, and of all that you are meant to be to yourself and to me. We like to box up and define people so they aren’t as messy and scary and irritating as they often are. But by labeling someone – by labeling myself—I also separate my reality from how completely awe-some and incredible each human being really is. Or can be, if we stop labeling people and putting them into neat little boxes, never peeling off the sticky labels. We need to stop feeding ourselves the fast-food garbage of labeling and start nourishing ourselves with true friendships and honest relationships.
On Liking Your Page and Donating to Your Cause on Your Birthday.
I apologize to all of you, everywhere, herein and henceforth, but –
Friendship means if I want to give you a birthday gift, I will, but I won’t be guilted into giving you a gift on your birthday because it is for a “bigger, better cause”. There is nothing bigger and better in our relationship than the cause of YOU!
If you don’t need a gift, I am happy for you; you are rich and self-sufficient. But please know that I am capable of choosing the groups and people that I think need my money, my time, and my donations. By all means, I love hearing about where you give your donations and may even consider checking them out to give to them myself. But not because it is a guilt-induced gift to you on your birthday, but because I respect your opinion as my friend.
Friendship, even on Facebook or Twitter is not about liking what you like or donating to whom you donate.
Friendship is about getting to know each other and hopefully, sharing the load as we walk this journey together for either a short time or a long time, for either the easy parts of the road, or the really tough, treacherous parts.
Friendship is about supporting, arguing, sharing pain and joy, showing each other a few pictures now and then, hashing through what is happening in the world at large and the neighborhood “at small”, and saying, for however long our journey together lasts, I’m in this with you, My Friend.
And One Last Thing….
I will “like” all your personal posts, but I don’t hit “like” on other people’s public-sponsored pages because frankly, I just assume they are really portals to Russian Trolls. I used to have a troll doll and I still have nightmares about it.
I’m sorry about that, I know it’s silly of me. But no one is perfect; not even this miss-labeled apple in the bunch.
Wanna’ be my friend anyway? Let’s do lunch.