Have you ever been judged or bullied by someone or have you ever been the initiator of these acts against someone else? Many times people pass judgement or bully someone but don’t realize what they are doing or saying is truly considered bullying … they may classify it as “joking around” instead. Unfortunately there is a fine line between joking and bullying and the effects are equally as damaging.
The issue of bullying or passing judgement is not contained to one specific age group … it happens with adolescents, teenagers and adults. Yes, even adults. Have you ever noticed how people lash out and judge each other via social media outlets. Someone may share an opinion about something or have a question about something and the responses are incredibly rude, obnoxious and judgemental. I always think to myself … why do they even respond? If they don’t have something nice to say, why can’t they simply refrain from responding? Violators may choose to judge or bully due to struggles they are having in their own lives. By making someone else hurt or feel bad the violator gets some sense of satisfaction or gratification which may temporarily help them cope with their own issues, difficulties or hardships.
Judgement and bullying happens all around us … on the school bus, in the classroom, on the playground, at athletic events, in the news, on social media, in the workplace and sometimes even at church!
Violators do not take the time to think about the person they are judging or bullying before they speak. Most offenders judge others without actually knowing what the victim is experiencing in their own life, what weight they are carrying on their shoulders or what their story consists of. Some of the reasons people choose to bully or judge may be related to physical appearance, level of performance both intellectually and athletically or for materialistic reasons like the type of home someone lives in, the model of car they drive, the brand of clothes or shoes they wear or whether they are lacking things that most others have. Sometimes people even bully or pass judgement on those with special needs or disabilities.
Have you had conversations with your family, coworkers or friends about bullying? Are you conscious about the words you speak to others? As you are aware, bullying and judging others is a common problem and one that can lead to very serious outcomes. It is critically important for each generation to learn the value and benefits of being kind and showing empathy and compassion for one another. After all, no one feels good after being bullied or judged regardless if you are the victim or violator. Violators may think it is cute or funny at the time they are committing the act but afterwards they may recognize they were wrong and have feelings of remorse for their actions. Violators should replace their negative behaviors and thoughts with acts of kindness, empathy and compassion. By doing so, it may help them cope with their own struggles in a more positive way and may even eliminate some of the difficulties they have in their own lives.
A few months ago, we went to see the movie Wonder. For those of you who have not read the book or seen the movie … it will surely pull at your heartstrings. I highly recommend taking the time to watch it but be sure you have a box of tissues handy. It was a very touching film about a young boy who was born with a genetic disorder causing facial deformities. The little boy had undergone multiple surgeries and had been home schooled up until the fifth grade when his parents decided to send him to a private school.
Anytime he left the house he wore an astronaut helmet to hide his face. He knew going to a new school was going to be difficult and tried to prepare for the reaction he may receive. It didn’t take long for the children to begin teasing, bullying and passing judgement because he was “different”. This little boy went through some very challenging times … even though this was a condition he was born with and had no control over, it didn’t stop others from making fun of him. He never gave up and continued to go to school every day, making friends with children who didn’t view him as “different”; children who could see past his disorder and physical appearance and truly connect with the person he was on the inside … they quickly learned he was just like them in so many ways.
This movie allowed us as parents to revisit the issue of bullying and how important it is to see people for “who they are” not “what they look like” and not “what they have or don’t have”. It was a great way to remind our children that just because someone looks different or may not have the same things you have doesn’t mean they are any different than you stressing the importance of getting to know someone from the “inside” out … because that is what matters most.
Hopefully this article will inspire people to stop and think before they pass judgement or bully someone. Take time to get to know someone and their story; you may find a lifelong friend and have more in common than you think. It is important to be kind, it is important to show compassion and it is important to be empathetic. Share these important reminders with your family and friends. You never know what someone else is going through and your kindness may be a blessing to someone experiencing a difficult time in their life. Be the reason someone smiles today!
“If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Theresa