Bad Examples

As October is bullying awareness month.  Is there anyone out there who has not experienced bullying at one point or another in their life?  While being bullied is an isolating experience, imagine my surprise when I found out years after the fact, that many of my peers felt the same.  Perhaps they weren't bullied by the same person, or in the same way, but they still had isolating experience.  One that they thought no one could understand, and yet perhaps most, if not all of us, can.

If I asked you to name your bully, how easy would it be?  Nearly 40 years after being "picked on" by a certain kid in the elementary school, I can still remember his name and his face.  I graduated with a relatively small class (around 200 students).  I should be able to remember all of them, or at least most of them.  Looking back at my yearbook, I see faces I know and many that I can barely recall.  (How embarrassing!)  But the face of the bully will never be forgotten.

It is too easy to remember the "bad examples" and to forget the "good ones."  The "bad" or the bullies seem to get more attention.  Just look at the media for example.  The headlines focus on the bullies and the negative.  The positive is relegated to the back pages.  How quickly could you name a bully?  Right now, name someone one in the public eye, who you consider to be a bully.  How long did it take you?  Now do the opposite.  Name someone, a celebrity of sorts if you will, who is the "anti-bully."  Someone who a current inspiration. (I saw current for a reason; while I could easily come up with many "paragons of virtue" they were all part of past history and no longer living.)  Was it as easy to come up with a "good" example as it was a bad?  For me, it was not.  (How many did you come up with?  My "list" was sadly pretty short!)

Every day it seems like we are pounded with bullies.  They headline the news.  While those who do good get little recognition at all.  You might argue that it's the way it should be.  After all it says in Matthew 6:    “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others."  On the other hand in the chapter previous to that Matthew 5 says:  "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

If only there were some way to trumpet the good and downplay the bullies.  It seems to me that many bullies feed on publicity and recognition.  If they didn't get the attention they seem to crave would it stop the bullying, or at least decrease it?  It's something to consider.

Perhaps a place to start would be with us.  To focus on and recognize the positive, instead of the negative.  To cheer loudly when we see good examples and not to boo or hiss, but to ignore, or at least downplay the bad ones.  Let's push the bad examples aside and herald the good ones.  It may not sell more newspapers or increase ratings, but it will certainly make the life in general a little less stressful and bring a lot more smiles to the world.  


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