Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wealth and Power can Create Bullies
By: Flowering Spring Tree
January 1, 2014

As a kid, I grew up in a working class neighborhood of Caucasians in the northeast that was middle to upper class.  All around me, my neighbors were teachers, nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, business agents, and entrepreneurs, some of whom were - and still are - extremely wealthy and powerful.  As a kid growing up around status, wealth, or at least, the absence of need in my immediate residential area, it was a sharp contrast to those in other areas close by who were impoverished, in receipt of welfare assistance, or who were unemployed.  As I got older and realized the differences in the socioeconomic status of people, I recognized how the wealth, power, and influence of one particular, large, extended family of 100's of people in my small area contributed to the good as well as the bad.

A mistake the I made when I was a very young child was to associate wealth and power with goodness.  Of course, as a child, I thought it was good for a person to have nice clothes, a good vehicle, a decent place to live, and even a good business or career.  As adults who are insightful about such things, many of us know that status does not necessarily equal a good, strong character, or good beliefs and values.  So, what I did not realize as a child was that a person might appear to "have everything," but really be lacking in the honorability and respectability of not having a good character and values.

What I had always hoped for, growing up, was that it was not really true that those families who were the most wealthy and powerful in my community were the least honorable and least respectable, though I have found that it is very true.  In playing with certain children in those wealthy families when I was a child, I discovered that they were bullies.  They acted in ways that were selfish, spoiled, conceited, mean, and hurtful to me and other peers.  They often had no adult supervision into their activities, and were left to their own devices, even in their own homes.  They had exclusive friends, they attended exclusive schools, and they kept to themselves and remained in their own world most of the time.  Because there were so, so many people in their huge extended family, there was little need for them to look outside of their own circle, and so, their bullyish actions became ingrained and normal to them.

What I observed as I grew up and became an adult was that the bullyish children of the extremely wealthy families also grew into bullyish and spoiled adults.  Many of them used alcohol and illegal drugs, and got away with what they could without consequences.  They were untouchable because of their wealth and power, not only in my small community, but also throughout the entire state.  The bullyish children who became bullyish adults also often married spouses who were well-known bullies in the community, and some have gone on to have children who are bullies, as well. 

Sadly, the vicious cycle has continued in many of those families.  Their wealth, power, influence, and status has corrupted them.  Being conceited, spoiled, mean, and hurtful was and is normal for them.  They do not see anything wrong with it.  Some of them are capable of bullying a person to death and not caring one wink about it.  They have never had to be responsible or accountable for the consequences of their actions, and it seems, they never will. 

And so, the rest of the community has to protect itself.  Those who try to help, and bring attention to the situation in the hopes of positive change are muzzled, silenced, and destroyed.  In these bullyish families, there is only one way - the bullyish way that disregards the law and overshadows goodness.  In our wonderful American democracy, those who try to stand up for what is good and right are often silenced and destroyed by those who have more wealth, power, and influence - and who are bullies, but not necessarily the right ideals.  Such wealth, power, influence, and status has caused and contributed to their bullyish ways.  And, all too often, others who are blinded by the false beauty of it all are misled and are unable to see the truth. 

And so, the bullying continues in a never-ending vicious cycle.  Those who are intelligent enough to realize that there is no changing such people try to work with or around them as well as they can, or avoid them altogether.  Those who have high ideals may attempt to make positive changes, but find that they are all but destroyed in the process.  In our land that is supposed to be flowing with milk and honey, we therefore find that those who reap the benefits of the good things are not quite so good, themselves.  The rest of us do our best to protect ourselves and avoid getting caught up into their toxic lifestyle.  Some of us are successful, and others, not.
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bye, Bye Bullies!
By: Flowering Spring Tree
December 1, 2013

When one is not around and not interacting with people who are bullies, there is a noticeable, positive difference!  I say this because there have been some changes and transitions in my family's life, recently; and with those have come fewer interactions with people who behave in ways that are cold, hurtful, insensitive, and bullyish.  Hurray!  I, for one, am very happy about that.  Can you tell?

My family has not been active in as many interactions and experiences, lately, that have caused us to associate with as many people.  What we have noticed as a result is lowered stress and pressure, increased happiness, less competition, decreased frustration levels, and a better sense of general ease and peace.  It has certainly been enjoyable to step away from the roller coaster that life can sometimes bring, and instead, enjoy the serene calm of a light breeze blowing along still waters.  Aahh, can you feel the sensations? 

It is, indeed, possible to experience and enjoy life that includes less stress, as well as fewer interactions and communications with bullies.  Of course, it is very difficult to avoid situations that can include people who bully others - and who get their thrills and enjoyment from it - though it is possible if one is willing to step away many of the unnecessary pressures of life.  Wouldn't it be nice to feel happiness, relaxation, and enjoyment within oneself?  I have.

It's possible for you to experience that happiness, relaxation, and enjoyment, as well.  There are many ways that you can achieve this state.  Making fewer trips out to order, buy, or pick-up whatever items you desire is helpful.  Consolidate three trips into one.  People who are bullies tend not to change, and they get satisfaction from being hurtful, so take stock and avoid those people.  Better yet, if possible, confront them with their behavior, suggest improvements, and should things worsen, seek elsewhere in which to commune with others.  That goes for adults, youth, and children.  If the pressures of holiday shopping are making you upset or getting you down, think of whether or not you really need the items that you want.  Save money and headaches, and just get the essentials. 

There are many ways that we can make life easier and better for ourselves.  Some of those ways include cutting back or eliminating certain activities from our lives that may be stressful, high pressure, frustrating, and/or which include bullies.  Do yourself a favor this holiday season and give yourself the gifts of peace, serenity, and enjoyment.  Step away from the rat race, and take some time to smell the roses.  It's healthier for mind and body.  You'll be glad that you did!
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Can Bullies Change?
By: Flowering Spring Tree
November 1, 2013

Can bullies change?  That is a question that I have often asked myself throughout my life.  And, I think that I have an answer that I would like to discuss here.

An important issue regarding people who are bullies – or who are viewed as bullies by others – is that the bullies, themselves, are unable to realize that they are bullies.  If they have grown up in environments in which they have been bullied by others, have not been cared about, and/or have been abused in any way, people who are bullies may not realize they are bullies.  If they have had experiences that encourage and/or support bullying, and or if they have come to identify with bullies as a way to survive, whether emotionally or physically, they likely do not view themselves as bullies. 

Therefore, for many bullies, bullying is a normal, and even expected, encouraged, or supported way of life.  In their environments and through their experiences, bullying may be common for them.  When bullying becomes an ingrained and entrenched part of their lifestyles and life experiences, they are unable to step outside of themselves to see what they have become.  And, sometimes, even if they realize it, they may believe that it is too late to change, that they are unable to change, and that, in order to change, they may have to transform ‘who they are’ as individuals in regard to their personalities and identities.  For many, this is likely a daunting task that may fill them with anxiety, worry, and discomfort.  Therefore, they do not change, and stick to what is comfortable and familiar.

On the other hand, there are people who are bullies who have changed.  In my life, I have not met many, however I am familiar with a few who have changed.  The first step that a bully must take in order to make a positive change is to realize and recognize that they are being a bully.  They must be open to recognizing and admitting to themselves that they are hurtful, mean, insensitive, vengeful, and/or worse toward others.  Once they can do that, and not blame others or remain in denial about their own worldviews, there is the potential for positive change. 

Following this, individuals who have been bullies must also be open to trying to behave toward and think about the world in a different way that is more sensitive and positive.  Having compassion for others as well as oneself is important.  One does not have to bully others in order to be tough.  One can be compassionate and still stand up for oneself and others without being a bully. 

Therefore, I believe that people can change – and that people who are bullies can change – but only if they really want to and put forth genuine efforts to do so.
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Does Ignorance Breed Bullying?
By: Flowering Spring Tree
October 10, 2013

During the past couple of weeks, there were certain events that occurred in the life of my family and myself that caused me to think more deeply about bullying and how it occurs.  While I know that bullying can be bred in others from their parents, environment, and/or learning experiences, I found myself thinking even more deeply about whether or not ignorance can breed bullying.  This is because my son and family experienced some extreme ignorance to certain seriously sensitive situations recently by many people at a particular institution.  It got me thinking about the story in the Bible about the rich man who bypassed Lazarus, ignoring him, overlooking him, not even seeing him.  The man’s wealth caused him to feel superior to Lazarus and become blind to Lazarus’ poverty.  Similarly, my son and family were treated in a highly ignorant manner that created an extremely serious situation, again, to which those involved outside of our family were incredibly ignorant.

Without saying what the situation was, one can suffice it to say that even when presented with the facts about the situation and that professionals outside of the institution confirmed the situation, the officials at the particular institution remained in denial and in ignorance about it.  They remained completely blind to the existence of a situation that they caused, and not only caused, but the effects to which they steadfastly remained ignorant.  It, therefore, got me to thinking if this type of ignorance and denial – even when faced with information that the situation occurred, including confirmations from outside professionals familiar with the situation – that this could be bullying.

For about the past two years, I have researched the effects of bullying.  I have read people’s stories on the Internet about bullying; I have read articles about how bullying led to people committing suicide; I have read about how so completely destructive people can be toward each other that it causes those others to kill themselves.  So, that leads me to the phrase about the devil that one cannot see is worse than the one whom a person can see.  At least, in the face of bullying by those who are direct about it and who do not hide it, one can easily observe that they are bullies.  Worse are those bullies who feign having one’s best interests in mind but who, in fact, are doing exactly the opposite of that by being resistant to the truth, being in denial of it, ignoring it, and exacerbating the situation even more by escalating it. 

What these folks should really be doing is their homework.  They ought to try to place themselves in others’ shoes, especially those of children.  Instead, they continue to be blind even though they have vision.  The problem is that they are blind in spirit even though they can see.  Is it about a culture in which people need to be right and correct all of the time, at whatever cost, even the cost of another’s life?  People who are blind in spirit and ignorant are bullies because they always believe they are right and correct.  They believe their way is the better way, the more superior way.  They are oblivious to how their way may have tragic effects on others – I’m talking about it being to the point where their ignorance causes others to take their own lives. 

Denying, overlooking, and being blind and ignorant to these such serious issues are inexcusable.  They are the work of bullies.  Bullies purposely ignore, overlook, or deny these types of situations because they believe they are superior and that their way is the best way.  They are inflexible and not about to change at all, not for one person, not even if it means saving a life.  People who are ignorant bullies, therefore, do not even see the results of their ignorance or bullying because they do not see anything wrong with it, much to the detriment of others who are negatively and even tragically affected by it. 

Therefore, I believe that people who are purposely ignorant and blind to issues and situations are bullies because they have had many opportunities to become enlightened and educated about these things, and they choose not to.  They choose to steadfastly hold onto their ignorance, denial, blindness, rigidity, and inflexibility.  They are bullies and they do not even realize it.  Therefore, it is up to others in society to realize it, and protect themselves from them before it is too late, and another life is lost due to their bullyish ignorance.
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

by Normandy D. Piccolo

Today I was in the grocery store doing typical pre-weekend shopping. I rounded the corner, pushing my semi-full creaking cart onto aisle seven, when I noticed an elderly man staring at a selection of sponges. A look of utter confusion was pasted upon his wrinkled face. He picked up one sponge, adjusted his eyeglasses, squinted while reading the label, only to put the sponge back and repeat the same process with another sponge. This went on for a few minutes, while I struggled to find the right laundry detergent displayed across from him. Too many choices.

The typical response to the elderly man’s predicament would be to ignore the man and go on with shopping. But I personally could not do it. I had to help. And so I did. I walked up to the elderly man and said, “Hi. Can I help you with the sponges?” He turned to me and with a slight tear perched in the corner of his left eye, said, “Oh yes, please. I’m so lost without my wife.”

Through a brief exchange, I learned the sweet elderly man was a recent widower and this was his first time grocery shopping without his wife. Apparently she did all of the shopping throughout their forty-seven years of marriage. He was completely disoriented and did not know which sponge to purchase in order to wash the dirty pots and pans piled up in the sink at home. 

After a few quick questions and some additional polite conversation I was not only able to help this man find the perfect sponge for the job, but I was also able to help put a smile on his face by simply offering him a few minutes of my time. I wished him well and walked away with a smile on my face too. It felt wonderful to help someone.

The take away message from this short encounter is this....

When we are being bullied, we are often made to feel as if we don’t matter - that any contributions in life mean nothing. But that is simply untrue. You do matter. And so do your contributions - big or small. Sometimes taking the focus off of ourselves and our problems and giving a moment of our time to someone else can help lift us up after enduring periods of being torn down by a bully. 

I’ve mentioned this before in my previous blog, but I felt it worth mentioning again. Words may hurt...but they can also save a life. Doing something as simple as saying “Hi” to someone passing by, giving a compliment on someone’s outfit or hair, volunteering with an organization really does make a difference. It matters to you and to the person whom you are giving your time too. 

You never may pass someone in the hallway at school one day who has been bullied so badly they want to harm themselves because no one wants to be their friend. Your simple smile and “Hi” could literally save their life - and you may never even know that it did - and that’s okay.

Just a little something to think about....

Never Let A Bully Win.
Fight Back.

Hugs - XX
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

by Normandy D. Piccolo

You’ve made me cry
Only you know why
Seems no matter how hard I try
My words keep getting twisted into lies
You might be slick, even a little sly
But I have a secret...
So take a breath, let out your annoying sigh
You will not defeat me, make me quit life and die
To your cruelty, torment, negativity.....I say, “Goodbye.”
To my joy, happiness and positive outlook....I say, “Hi!”

We’ve heard the original saying for years, “Sticks and Stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you”. Well I suppose that all depends on the Who, the What and the Why.

Some will argue that the classic saying is true. Others will disagree and say words most definitely hurt and can even cause long term damage to a person’s life. Then there are the head doctors who will over analyze the issue, come up with  a new disorder name for it, treatment regimens, etc.. But that is another matter.

As we blossom from newborn babies into adults, there are many people who will speak into our lives. Some of their words will be positive. Some will be negative. And some will fall under the category of constructive criticism with the intention of helping us to become the best we have the potential to be..if we can’t see the possibility ourselves.

We revel when the words said to us are positive because there is acceptance and approval involved. But when the words are negative, we are left to feel isolated, unaccepted and hurt.
We are so conditioned to accept and value other peoples opinions of us. Whether it is family members, best friends, co-workers, a crush, someone we look up too, whoever. What they think of us matters to the point of affecting our mood and how we view ourselves. Why? And how can we turn that thinking around?

Sociology classes teach us that people need people. After birth we are expected to grow, learn to walk and talk, go to school, graduate, go to college, graduate, have a career, get married, have a family, retire, become grandparents and live out our golden years eating cheesecake, playing checkers, and doing prune juice shots at a nursing home until it is our time to sprout wings and hold a harp.

Because we are taught that particular life formula. Because we seek approval. And because we need people, therein lies the very root as to why it is so damaging when we get bullied. Bullying goes against everything we are taught.

In every realm, whether it is animal, insect, or human, there is always going to be a “pecking order”. Meaning, there will always be someone in charge and someone fighting to become in charge. This natural order of things does not mean bullying is an acceptable behavior in order to achieve said coveted position of being in charge. There is a difference between being a leader and a bully. Saying hurtful things to someone or about someone for no reason whatsoever other than to cause deliberate pain does not make someone a leader. It makes them a loser and a bully.

Think of your life like a pot of stew cooking on the stove and you are the Chef. The words spoken into your life represent different spiced ingredients. Those spices get added to your spice rack as your life progresses. Some of the spices you choose to accept will give your stew a sweet taste, while others will cause your stew to become bitter. As the Chef, you have control over how your life stew will taste. In other words, you have the power and authority to believe or reject words spoken about you.

I have mentioned this before, but I think it bears repeating.
Bullying is all about control. It’s about one person trying to control another. Take the control back and you win - the bully loses. It really is that simple. Nobody has the right to speak negative, hurtful stuff into your life. You have the power to reject those negative words. You are in control of your life, not a Bully.

Be confident. You have a plan and a purpose on this Earth and that plan does not involve being put down, picked on or shut out. You have better things to do with your time. Hold your head high and own the positive things about yourself and let the negative words fall by the way.

Mind over matter. You’ve got a mind and a bully’s opinion of you doesn’t matter.

Never Let A Bully Win.
Fight Back.

Hugs, XX
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The Different Faces of Bullies
by Flowering Spring Tree

Throughout my life, there are different types of people whom I have experienced as bullies.  Typically, bullies have directly and openly presented themselves to me as those who are mean-spirited, hurtful, angry, jealous, and insecure.  In other instances, there have been those who have been bullies toward me who have hidden their agendas behind false smiles and fake kindnesses.  It is these bullies who behave as if they are friends, though who really have harmful, ulterior motives in mind about whom I believe people must be most cautious and aware. 

Those bullies who are openly mean and nasty are those whom one expects to always be harming in some way to others.  I would like to suggest that the bullies who behave as though they are friendly and kind, but who are actually somehow harming or injurious behind the scenes are those who are most dangerous.  Those who place their trust in people who appear to be kind, friendly, helpful, and/or supportive – but who really are not – are at great risk for losses in their physical, mental, emotional, and financial safety and security. 

These types of situations can apply to children who trust and rely upon adults who appear to be kind, but who are actually bullies or worse.  How many children have trusted a seemingly kind adult, only to be harmed in some way?  There are other incidents involving the elderly who are preyed upon by bullies who scam and convince them to hand over monies to them.  Other types of situations may be experienced by women in relationships, for example; a woman may be in a relationship with a controlling or domineering partner who bullies or harms her in some way.

Bullying can take on all shapes and sizes, all backgrounds, and all ages, races, and genders.  Kids may bully other kids; adults may bully other adults; adults may bully children; and other scenarios, as well.  One of the biggest areas of trust that bullies – and others – have created in our society is of people feeling anxious and/or cautious about those who are genuinely kind, friendly, helpful, and supportive.  There are bullies who appear to be friendly and kind, but who are not; and there are those who actually are friendly and kind.  Those who are truly kind and good may lose heart due to the harmful actions of those who behave in a kindly way, but who are not actually good.

Due to the harm and mistrust caused by bullies and those who do not have others’ best interests in mind, our society has lost the element of people being able to trust those who are genuinely good people.  Our society now leans more toward the side of caution and mistrust because, so often, one does not know who to trust.  It is the same with bullies.  It is always easier to decide that an openly mean or injurious person is a bully rather than one who appears kind and friendly, and who is actually a bully. 

Bullies have taken too much from our society in the way of emotional security.  I am left to wonder if we will ever get that back?  Therefore, I must ask what you are doing today to do your part to be kind, friendly, helpful, and supportive of others.  What are you doing to place yourself in another’s shoes, to try to relate, and to try to understand what he or she is experiencing?  What are you doing to be a guide, role model, and leader for others in the ways of goodness and kindness?  Have you complimented another today?  Have you asked others if there is anything you could do for them today?  Remember that a kind gesture could make someone’s day, especially if he or she has experienced bullying, whether open or concealed.  You can make a difference!
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