My friend and I were chatting the other day, once again solving the world’s problems. This time the topic was our deteriorating climate, when he finally says, “Yeah, I get it. We put ourselves in a bad spot. How do we fix it?”
I grew up in the 80’s and graduated high school in 1994 when we had to chisel our homework on concrete slabs. During that era, being a bully (to some extent) wasn’t so much frowned upon as it was seen as a sign of “being tough”. Bullies were usually popular and had pretty girl/boyfriends. Adults frowned upon bullying, but there was equal amounts of victim blaming doled to the poor lout with the swollen cheek: Why didn’t you stand up for yourself? If you weren’t so awkward, you wouldn’t be picked on.
That was the social norm. It was a very John Wayne “tough guy hierarchy” type of world. But that’s changed, and for the better in my opinion. Bully’s are now shamed and taught doses of their own medicine. It’s no longer “cool” to pick on someone until they cry; getting someone to do their homework for them is a sign of incompetence and weakness, rather than a socio-hierarchal advantage. We raised our children to do that which we could not, and many us also changed in the process. Myself included. Few people nowadays would believe that I was ever bullied as a child, and far too small to intervene in anyone else’s ass whooping. The one time I’d tried and stand up for myself, I got clocked right between the eyes by someone twice my size. It didn’t really hurt, at least not nearly as much as I’d imagined, and I got to stay home from school that day thanks to my appeal to pity argument 😉 In one generation, society flipped it’s perspective because the victims of bullying all grew up as did the people that stood by and watched in horror, too intimidated to intervene. They taught their children and grandchildren to be different. Instead of cheering for the bully and reveling in their tough-guy bravado, reject them and their revelers. Then media took the call. Our heroes, mentors, and television personalities, all shunning bullies, their acts were strewn across social media for all to see. We are seeing a similar paradigm shift in social views of the LGBTQ community.
So, when my friend asked me, “How do we fix the climate?” I told him, “We don’t fix anything. It’s our children and grandchildren who are going to fix it, but they won’t do that unless instill that change in them now, while they’re young. Like we did with bullying.”