You want bully. I’ll give you bully.

Talking with my pal Joe Peek this morning about how I really enjoyed intimidating bullies when I was younger, (up until about 6 months ago). When friends or strangers got bullied I liked intervening. My friend Lynda Christmann Nauseda was being messed with when we were young and she was a visitor to the south side of Chicago from the burbs. Somebody figured that made her fair game for hassling. (Always check who is around before you start messing with folks. Never know who is looking out for whom if you do not properly scope the situation.)

He didn’t ever wish to hassle Lynda again. And the thing is, I am smaller than most bullies. Truth, I was never that strong in my teen years. Honestly, I felt scared when I injected myself into situations. But I was compelled to do it. I never really felt it was a choice. It just had to be done. I didn’t need to be big and muscular. All it took to stop most bullies was someone who had the fortitude to step up.
I once intervened with some young military guys playing cards on Amtrak. They were listening to an old drunk former marine spout racist crap. I injected myself from across the railroad car into their conversation and chastised the older marine for his language and cautioned him not to use the word again. The best part was the young guys thanking me later on for what I did. I think once the crowd thins most men will act responsibly. But so many men find it so difficult to oppose the group. They lose themselves in the crowd. Then there are those who are just plain mean. But while they may have a mental affliction which deprives them of empathy for the victim, they will draw strength and encouragement from the crowd. Take away the followers and you begin to suck the life out of the gang mentality.
Where is an anti-bullying program run by ex-bullies? Why do the TV ads use people like movie stars and Shaquille O’Neal? Get me your most macho ex-con. Get me the former bullies. I say, record advertisements about bullying with the guys who know how a bully thinks. Victims making videos about bullying are just reaching other potential victims. That does not influence the bully. Time to get to the bullies. Teach them how to “man up”. Teach them to speak up. Empower them to say or do what goes against the grain, something you would not like saying or doing it and it is not what you would usually say or do.

Want to know who influenced me to do the right thing? Guys who could bully others but didn’t. Scary guys who stood up for those in no position to defend themselves. They taught me what I could do. I role modeled them. Know my favorite anti-bullying technique, not recommended for the weak of heart? Raise the level of intimidation to a higher intensity. I used to reply to bullies with an attitude of, you want aggression, I’ll show you aggression. You want intimidation, let me show you intimidation. Of course I tended to also role modeled my heroes propensity to commit crimes, but that is a story already told. Scroll the Internet and you will see what videos there are which are intended to prevent bullying.

Bully prevention does not have to be about being nice. It should be about not being mean. It shouldn’t be about helping the kid getting bullied. It should be about how uncool it is to be the bully. I carry a gun because the nice policeman won’t be there when I need him. So, it is nice the policeman will come when called but better yet, I do not want to need the police.
These videos are very sweet and are voiced by lovely young people, behavioral experts and celebrities. Screw that! If you use celebrities, try using Danny Trejo or Esai Morales in a commercial.  or.

That gets my attention. Drive a stake through the vampire’s heart. Shoot the zombie in the head. Then maybe I can retire peacefully from the need to stop the bully. Maybe the next time, his pals stop him dead in his tracks before there is a real victim. Hey, just my humble opinion. Remember, be humble, you may be wrong.

Haters be hating

So I just posted something about haters on Facebook. I mentioned the manner in which I would like to reply to FB people who hate on others. I mentioned dipping my toe in the hate pool.

I had a conversation with my wife Sunday. She said something to the effect of, “I like that the real you has emerged”. She specifically was referring to how much nicer I behave. I retorted that I do not believe the real me is sweeter. I believe the natural me is quite “difficult”. I explained to her that being sweet and its accompanying attributes is a major effort, that being hostile and aggressive has always come quite easily and naturally.

I am not proud of that fact but for the sake of clarity and reality, I hope that folks can learn what I have learned. I discovered that I could be better but being kind is laborious. I know I have been a good person most of my days. I have acted with great kindness and compassion quite often. But no one would have, or at least should have characterized my behavior based on those moments in contrast to my more common behavior.

So, if like me, you are, or know someone who is, a “difficult” person, you might suggest that it need not be. There is a path(s) which leads to a better acting self. For me, my path has been a combination of 12 step recovery and Buddhism/mindful meditation. It can be hard to convince someone that with effort they can dramatically change their behavior, especially if like me, they spent years in therapies and many nights wishing unsuccessfully, to be different.

I can not believe that if I abandon the effort I will continue to be seen as a sweet man. Aggression is lurking in my psyche, ready to roll on a moments notice. Thus do I arrive at the conclusion that we have not discovered the “real me” when gazing upon my better acting self. The real me would be happy to stick around even in the absence of behavioral modifications. If you believe that I am a naturally sweet man, then you should be vigilant against the possibility of being sold swampland in Florida.