Letter to the Editor

March 21, 2018

Difference causes bullying

My wife used to have a pet magpie. It loved all of us, was easy to feed and friendly. We gave it complete freedom so it was never engaged.
The magpie was different from others because it was born with some grey colouring where others had black.
Sadly she was killed by some other magpies that were black and white. She was different! Nature tends to recognise difference somewhat cruelly.
Humans generally don’t recognise that cruel side of nature. Go into any hospital and you will see the magnificent side of humanity where the unfortunate are helped by the strong and healthy. We call that empathy.
Unfortunately some humans either don’t recognise empathy or if they do, they let a darker side of personality misunderstand empathy. Examples may be Henry the 8th or Hitler.
I am quite certain that no person can find another who is not different. Over the centuries, difference has become more and more marked. You use empathy if you can recognise that all people are different. Salesman and teachers are examples of people who should be good at understanding empathy. But do they understand the use of it?
Many schools now have pupils from far and near including those from distant countries. The differences seen in pupils must be very marked. My sympathy as a retired primary principal goes to all teachers in that situation. Here’s where bullying rears its ugly head. What does a bully see in the bullied? My guess is that he sees a person who is considerably different from him. In other words there must be a reason for the bullying. If there is a reason, it follows that there is no value in punishment. That would tend to make the bully angry or even vengeful. Instead, it becomes a repair job to help the bully. That may take some time because the bully has developed to where he is, over a long time. What’s wrong with convincing him that he can be useful in looking for the differences in others. Can we see the value in the bully? He should be led to see that there is value and usefulness in everyone including those who are “different”. I can’t see it being a short course.

Ron Neilsen

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