The following little editorial is a response to an article in our local small town newspaper, the St. Albert Gazette. They write a response to current issues called “Our View” and in the one I am responding to, they make some statements about the causes of, and solutions for, bullying. There is nothing particularly wrong about their take, but it does have one glaring blind spot and that blind spot is the lack of personal and social accountability. Their account places all the blame on a) absentee and irresponsible parents, b) social media, and c) insufficient consequences (which may itself be just a euphemism for insufficient violence if, by consequences, they mean physical violence, shaming, psychological disregard, or similar forms of “consequences”), but they miss the biggest contributing factor of all which is that society models violence to its children! We, as a global society, will never stop the growing statistical reality of bullying and the painful, increasingly suicidal, consequences until we admit that we are the problem. The point of my editorial is to point out that if we want to stop bullying specifically, we have to become non-violent in general. Otherwise it is a loosing game.
Spiritually speaking there are a few relevant points.
- The article and commentary points to the reality of social violence, in the form of bullying. Sociologically, psychologically, and spiritually it is important to be aware that bullying , usually understood as the violence of a child directed at another child, is only one form of violence. If you aren’t aware of a larger category of violence, or if you pretend it doesn’t exist, then it becomes easy to come to erroneous conclusions about bullying, like its caused only be neglectful parents, or that all we have to do to stop it is “impose consequences” (read “put a hurt”) on the bullies. However, put bullying in the wider context of social violence and your thinking expands as well. Then you see the problem isn’t isolated to a few bad apples, but is endemic to The System we live in.
- We need to pay attention to the actual consequences of violence. The article that I comment on points to bullying and the consequences of that, but the larger question of violence and its consequences looms ever nearer. In particular you may want to consider the growing body of evidence on the negative consequences of violence in childhood (Sosteric, 2013). The consequences are far reaching, pernicious, and (if this is the first time you’ve ever considered the problem), stunning. Regardless of your stomach for the issue though we need to take a closer look not only at the consequences of bullying per se, but on the consequence of interpersonal violence more generally. The consequences of violence on the ability of the physical unit to function properly is the main issue here. Moving forward into a more spiritually aligned world we have to recognize a lot of damage has been done to the physical unit and a lot of work is required to heal the damage. This will involve a redirection of economic priorities away from the war, violence, technological distraction, and mindless entertainment and to the support of actual human needs and authentic healing and spirituality.
- Speaking spiritually, if you are going to live an aligned life, if you are going to avoid disjuncture, create right environment, engage in right action (Sharp, 2013), and move towards a fuller connection with The Fabric of Consciousness as I call it (Sharp, 2006), you are likely going to need to change your daily practices. Call it synousia, divine communion, the Divine Wedding, realization of pneuma, contact with the Kingdom of God, a “pure conscious event”, salvation, transcendence, the second baptism, the rebirth, the alchemical union, or whatever you like, but hear these words: If you want to experience fuller connection with The Fabric of Consciousness, and not just temporary glimpses, or self delusional fabrications, you are going to have to move towards non-violence. We live in a universe rooted in consciousness (Sharp, 2006) and disrespect of any aspect of that universe is out of alignment with the consciousness and the universe. Being out of alignment it is also disjunctive (Sharp, 2013). As I note elsewhere, disjuncture makes “divine communication” a lot harder, even impossible. So if you want to practice a real and authentic spirituality (Sharp, 2010), be honest about who you currently are, and practice non-violence at a physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual level. Perhaps more to the point, don’t expose yourself to violence, and don’t accept it when directed at you. Your physical unit is a precious vehicle for spirit and it should always be treated that way.
Anyway, you can read the original article by clicking this link. You can read my response to their editorial below. — Dear Gazette In the Saturday Aug 17th issue you state that bullying is here to stay, and getting worse. You identify the superficiality of social media, lack of attention from parents, and lack of consequences as the primary culprits. While it is certainly true that these things contribute, the psychological reality is, the experts final word is, that children learn what they see and experience, and what they see and experience is, from day one, a violent and bullying world. Parents hit, yell at, push around, speak down to, and speak in aggressive and belittling tones to their children and their spouses. Our teachers isolate, exclude, rank, punish, and dismiss. Our police use clubs and guns. Our politicians send armies off to war. Our media glorify violence. Our games make beating and killing out to be fun. Our priests speak about the violence of hell and God in the heaven and worst of all, threatening the violence of eternal damnation just because you don’t follow some rules. Justify and excuse it all you like, but the reality is, it is our collective violence, our psychological acceptance of it, and our ideological justification of it, that is the root of, and the model for, the bullying child. And while it is certainly true that parents need to “go out of their way to teach their kids that such behaviour is not acceptable,” the lesson starts with the actions and behaviours of the adults of this world. You want to reduce the problem of bullying, you want to end intimate violence, you must recognize the physical, emotional, psychological, and even spiritual violence in your life and end it there first. –
Sosteric, Mike (2013). Sociology versus Psychology – The Context of Psychological Pathology and Child Abuse. Socjourn. [http://www.sociology.org/columnists/michael-sosteric/sociology-versus-psychology-the-social-context-of-psychological-pathology-and-child-abuse]
Sharp, M. (2006). The Book of Light: The Nature of God, the Structure of Consciousness, and the Universe Within You (Vol. One). St. Albert, Alberta: Lightning Path Press.
Sharp, M. (2103). Lightning Path Intermediate Module A – Foundations (Vol. 3). St. Albert, Alberta: Lightning Path Press.