I wonder how bullies became so pervasive in our society.
From the time I was a little girl Iíve been aware of physical bullies. They were the ones that used to take great delight in chasing me home from school because I had the nerve to call them out when they picked on children who couldnít or wouldnít defend themselves. They were the well-meaning adults who applied the strap to their kids until the parent no longer could raise their arm to swing the belt. They were the educators of the day that applied the golden ruler to hands of any student who stepped out of line.
In my late teens and early 20s I faced a new kind of bully, one with whom I exchanged wedding rings. Along with the bruises came a new form of bullying ó mental cruelty.
And while I couldnít run away from that bully, I finally found relief through the law and ultimately divorce.
The mental infliction took a lot longer to recover from. Like many people whoíve been told theyíre worthless, I had low self-esteem issues for many years. (Some would say Iíve gone too much in the other direction now, but thatís another column entirely.)
Eventually, through my involvement with groups such as Toastmasters, I learned to speak up in a way that didnít have me running for cover or cowering in the corner. I learned to face my critics head on. Given my propensity to speak my mind in most situations, thatís probably a good thing.
There are another couple of forms of bullying that Iíve only got to experience since becoming a newspaper person. Both are insidious ó†one has threatened my livelihood on occasion and the other my reputation.
From time to time we cover community issues in our paper that inflame people who purchase advertising in the Coast Reporter.
And while most folks realize the importance of unbiased reporting, some donít. Occasionally we get
a backlash for stories we cover.
We recognize thatís the cost of
doing business and move on.
The reputation bullying is a little harder to deal with. Like most people I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, with a right as a Canadian citizen to have my own views. Sometimes my opinion is well received, other times not so much. The only time that appears to be a big problem is when some misguided soul decides I donít have the right to an opinion and goes out of their way to make my life miserable.
It makes me very sad to read this weekís front-page story. I ache for the businessperson who is so worried about his or her livelihood that theyíre afraid to go on record against the anti-George campaigners. And I understand their reluctance to challenge the letter writer. Also I wonder about someone who would consider having a merchant back down because they were threatened as ďheartwarming.Ē If this is only the beginning of these tactics,
I shudder to think of whatís next.
We need to stand up to the bullies. Itís long past time.