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For Some, Ignorance is Bliss

When a person is silent in the face of an injustice, they are complicit in that injustice.

“I am so sick of hearing about bullying. I was bullied when I was a youngster and it toughened me up for what was ahead — real life. Face it folks, life is not fair. No matter what the government, parents, schools, or churches do, life just isn’t 'fair.' And there isn’t a darn thing anyone can do about it. Someone somewhere is always going to be better and win more. So, a little bullying helps toughen people up for what is ahead.”

This was an anonymous post I recently read in the Reminder News' “Speak Out” section. And all I can say is ignorance is bliss. When I hear absurdities such as this, I find that I, in some way,  must speak out against them. Yes, I know the saying “everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” however, I strongly disagree with that statement put exactly that way. I prefer to say that everyone is entitled to an informed opinion. This person has obviously not done one drop of study or research about the topic of bullying. Such as, what it really means, what its real and long term effects are, etc.

Bullying does not toughen people up, it tears them down. Saying “So, a little bullying helps toughen people up for what is ahead” is like saying that being raped toughens a woman up for what’s ahead. The statement is ludicrous. Bullying is abuse by another name. Bullying has nothing at all to do with the notion that “someone somewhere is always going to be better and win more.” And, by the way, there are much more effective ways to toughen people up. We do it all the time in the martial arts and NEVER do we need to abuse someone to pull it off.

People who spout off about subjects they have no real understanding of scare me. But what scares me more is when people are silent in the face of such absurdities. The only way to counter “backwards” thinking like this, is to step up and speak out against it. As a society, I think we have an obligation to the common good to not let grossly inaccurate statements like this one stand with impunity.

Some will cite the first amendment and tell me that, by law, we have the freedom to say whatever we want. Yet, actually, this is not quite true. Per Wikipedia: “The freedom (of speech) is not absolute; the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized several categories of speech that are excluded from the freedom of speech, and it has recognized that governments may enact reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions on speech.”

But I’m not talking about enacting a law to prevent ignorant people from saying ignorant things. First, that would be impossible to enforce and, second, I think we have too many laws on the books already. I think that all we need to do, as a society, is step up and speak out, and speak out loudly, against such obviously misinformed people and potentially damaging statements.

When a person is silent in the face of an injustice, they are complicit in that injustice. Staying silent is just like saying “I agree with this.” And actually, bullies rely on others' silence in order to get away with what they do.

We certainly can be the change we wish to see in the world, but we have to be willing to step up and speak up in order to be that change.

Joyce Morin May 08, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I think what the writer meant to say is that one can't let it control their life forever. Bullying is and I suspect will always be an issue...my son was bullied throughout his school years and no matter how much support he received from home and school administrators it did not stop...I do not want him to live his life as a victim however..he is a better person than that and now an advocate for those who are bullied! Should it stop, absolutely, will it stop, most definitely it will not, as unfortunate as they may sound.
tina bourke May 08, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Joel, I enjoyed the article. I apologize but the example about rape and women stuck me as odd. Women may stay silent about rape because of trauma, shame, and they do not want to get bullied in the process of proving they were raped.
Brittany Devanney May 09, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Great article. Yes, sometimes kids are stronger for what they were put through but then there are those kids who are pushed to the limit and don't end up as lucky.

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