Things We Lost in Laughter....



A Netherlands study recently concluded what is obvious to every person who has ever been bullied. It said that “The children and young adults ages 9 to 21 who were victimized were 2.2 times as likely to have suicidal thoughts as those who were not victimized, and bullying victims were 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide, compared with non-victims." (Source: Huffington Post)
Suicide-that modern crime of taking your life in your own hands. This contemptuous crime which the world keeps on attacking viciously. "Cowards do that", "There is so much to live for in life" and my favorite -“Life is Beautiful". None of these statements offer an iota of honesty or go for the core issue- the reasons. Life is beautiful to the young and rich but not to a teenage boy who is subjected to humiliation every day. There is so much to live for when you are not alone, unless you are that "weirdo" whom no one wants to sit in the cafeteria with. Society wants to treat the symptom rather than going after the cause.
I can say that in the food chain of bullying, I was lucky to always have been on the lower rung. If the reports I read and the grapevine I hear are true, I was not even subjected to what maybe construed as bullying. But did it leave an impact? Yes it did. 
The skeptics and the naive will tell you that "it's all in jest" and that it is even required to prepare one for life. Firstly, since when does being mocked on a daily basis for oiling your hair prepare you for life? When you go for an interview and rather than banking on your credentials, if your prospective boss starts making fun of your hair, what stops anyone from storming out? The bullies of life become institutions and human apathy. Everyone suffers the equal brunt of it- whether you are a bully or the victim. Secondly, if there is anything which needs concrete research, it is the difference between fun and bullying. "There was no intention to hurt, it was just in fun." A world where we are judged on the basis of our intentions, the verdict will pronounce us all equally guilty or innocent. Thankfully, the world is judged on actions, words and repercussions. It maybe fun to watch and say things but the tears and humiliation last for years. So then what do we do to laugh? You can do thousands of things to laugh other than picking on people who cannot fight for themselves. Most comedians of the world will tell you a simple rule- don't get vicious. They will make fun of famous people and their hypocrisy but the moment you start calling people names for sheer mirth, you are a bully. The world has enough irony, hypocrisy and apathy to ensure we all laugh our lifetimes out.

Here I am, trying to be this big anti-bullying crusader, what makes me so special? Am I a clean guy who has not bullied anyone in my life? No I have. I bullied the weirdoes and outcasts. I remember humiliating a good friend in public just to stoke laughter for my new group in college. I learnt impressions of many classmates and teachers and would not hesitate from enacting them. I made fun of a male professor's weight. I once enacted all these impressions for my class before the course ended. I did it in front of the teachers as well. After every mimic, I would look at the face of the person I made fun of. I would seek that look of pain which I knew too well. I have often been sensitive about being called morally wrong  and if I ever learnt that I had intentionally hurt someone who did not deserve it, the guilt would drive a wedge through me. After the day ended, no professor or student came to me with complaints. Does that mean I am innocent? I still don't know what others who were not present thought of my acts. The pain my friend felt when I insulted him without cause. I am guilty- intentionally and  unintentionally, consciously and unconsciously. That's another thing they don't tell you- the bullied becomes the bully soon. Why? Because we feel so powerless all those years that we think we have the right to do the same- reclaim the power. This is also dubbed as "initiation rites" which is used by seniors or hostels for ragging. "It happened to me, so it should happen to you too."

To all my bullies- teachers, classmates, friends, fiends, acquaintances, relatives and strangers, I forgive you. But I do not forget. I do not forget how you laughed loudly when I could not answer that "simple" mathematics question. I do not forget how you insulted me in front of the class for my handwriting when you could have just told me to work on it like a teacher is supposed to. I do not forget the incessant taps/slaps on the head or shoulder when the class is in session. I do not forget the name calling and gossip you spread about me. I do not forget the jokes on my oily hair or the bald patches or my hunchback walk or my fashion choices. I do not forget the bullying done in the name of fun to my friends with the sheer result of humiliation. I do not forget the intimidation and fear. I do not forget the character assassinations and judgments. I never will.

To my young friends who are yet to experience anything like this, I must warn you to be on the lookout. Most often than not, these instances will happen in your life sparsely in the name of fun and laughter. It will all seem natural and amusing at the time. But keep your eyes fixed on the person being targeted. Is he sad or anxious? Talk to him personally if he felt bad. Don't do it either way. Develop a sense of humor. An intelligent one which does not hurt people. There are thousands of funny things in the world and not one of them is bullying. To all the people who are in the cycle already, bullying and humiliating everything that moves, I can't help you. Nothing I say will ever change you-except that life is the greatest equalizer there is and that those who you step on today will be higher than you tomorrow.
What did I lose? I lost confidence, peace, faith in people, kindness and respect. I became what I loathed. Many lost much more than that and some even lost their lives.

So what do we do now? If I see bullying somewhere, how do I stop it? What if it’s my friends and loved ones who are doing it? I cannot help you with the latter. It perplexes me too. But if you see bullying, stand up. Stand up for those who are weak and outnumbered. After years of knowing bullies as their adversaries and ironically, sometimes as their friend, I have enough courage now to see through them all. Nothing scares me as much as life. I can stand up now and abuse back. I can be smarter and make them go away. Take all the help you can- teachers, parents or sometimes the law enforcement. Do not quit the fight. Because you will win. Always.


Maybe there is no permanent solution to bullying. But there are a few things we can try. One of them is an idea shared on TED about love which I believe applies to general human interactions. It is said that the world needs to understand "Tenderness" to understand love. I think it’s needed to understand everything.
Here is the video Check it Out: "Love -You are doing it wrong!"

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