There are two issues which I have no problems getting on my soapbox about at all. This is because I am a survivor of one of them and a continual victim of the other.
Everyone can say how bad Bullying and Discrimination are. Correction – most people do say how bad Bullying and Discrimination are. But sometimes I wonder if they are just paying lipservice to the idea.
If you think of them as interchangeable (which they are) you might start to see where I am coming from. Bullying is Discrimination in its most basic (and sometimes physically and mentally violent) form. To me – Discrimination is Bullying in a “corporate” format with hidden undercurrents.
You don’t have to be disabled to be a victim of Bullying – you just need to be different. Or rather, you just need to be seen as being different – having ginger hair, having an unusual name, being of a different race, speaking a different language, etc.
The funny thing about Bullying and Discrimination is that the victims of both of them are the people who (if the situation was different) could actually improve the situation for the perpetrators. Not just by giving the perpetrators a true reason to feel good about themselves either.
Allow me to attempt to explain what I mean by that.
Having been a victim of Bullying both at school and in my last job I have come to a rather startling conclusion – Bullies have no idea about how to improve the situation they find themselves in (especially the adult Bullies). This means they go for the people they perceive to be the weakest.
Now – the people who Bullies traditionally see as weaker than them could actually be the people who could end up helping them get out of their situation. The only trouble is – that would require the Bullies to learn from their (potential) victims.
I could talk about things like “strength of character” and “resilience” but that would be missing the point.
Have you ever noticed that – whenever someone does something to make their own life easier – the rest of the population jumps on the bandwagon. They use the idea, etc, and try to claim the glory – forgetting to spare a thought for the poor person whose idea or problem sparked the whole thing off.
I have a kind of saying “if you go for the worst case scenario you will be prepared for all eventualities”. On the flip side to that – if you let the people with the most experience of the situation you are trying to improve help you you will get on so much better. You will also have a higher chance of success.
(This explains why I always tell people that if they want me to cooperate with their wishes they should start worrying if I stop speaking. As long as I am asking you questions you still have a chance to convince me. If I shut up and stop asking questions you have lost both me and the argument. Not only that but the chances are that my next move will either be to argue with you or just walk away.)
Before you start humming the tune of “I’d like to teach the world to sing (in perfect harmony)” and accuse me of being some kind of “throwback Hippie” – I just wish we lived in a society where everyone was considered able to make a valuable contribution to the benefit of everybody.
I may be a “sideways” thinker but sometimes people like me are the ones who come up with ideas which can be useful to everyone (but nobody had thought of them before).
Bullying and Discrimination serve no useful purpose. It would be far better if we learned from each other.