How does a cell phone become a lethal weapon?
Since the start of this blog over one year ago, I’ve been focused on trauma and disease survivors including those enduring any kind of life-changing challenges. We are all surrounded by heroes and warriors for whom life has demanded remarkable feats of strength and courage.
Although not always obvious, in the heat of battle, many of these survivors face, and walk through trauma that renews their spirit. They often give testimony to a faith in God or a Higher Power without whom they’d be defeated.
Trauma survivors realize that they come away stronger and fortified with a fresh courage to endure any kind of obstacle they might encounter in their journeys. They report that with faith and God’s help, they cannot be subjugated by anything.
In the cases of terminal disease, their victories are sometimes realized in death, which they face boldly and faithfully. History is filled with the accounts of these inspirational heroes. For the great majority of trauma survivors, their perseverance is evidence supporting the ancient adage, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”
A Unique Trauma
But there is another kind of traumatic, life-changing assault that doesn’t foster the same outcome. It is more subtle but equally devastating. Obscurity hides it. Woven by insecurities and fear, this trauma is darkly cloaked.
This trauma is self-perpetuating – weakly shielded by ego that tries to hide an underlying sense of inferiority. Despite the virulence and harm suffered by its victims, this trauma is frequently and conveniently ignored by others. This trauma is all but impossible to endure, let alone survive. They feel hopelessly defeated, paralyzed, and smothered by fear. They are unable to mount a defense—innocent targets.
This martyrdom exhausts survivors and sometimes not before ending in death. Yes death.
Some die from the disease directly. All too often they die at their own hands by suicide. This powerful trauma is known as bullying.
Bullying, physical or emotional, is the intimidation of others. It’s often accompanied by a sense of superiority, false as it is. Frequently, bullies are motivated by a feeling of being different from those whom they perceive as weaker.
Bullying is a hideous, disgusting, and hurtful product of the human condition. This trauma can be inflicted by one person on another or by an entire population on one or many.
ISIS and other terrorist factions represent grand scale bullying that threatens all civilized society. The evil that lurks in a fallen world fosters this disease and the bullies that perpetrate it.
Cyberbullying is quickly becoming a leading attribute associated with suicide. And suicide is quickly becoming a leading cause of death in teens and young adults.
Suicide is currently the number two cause of death in those between ages 10 and 24.
With the increasing popularity of texting and social media, electronic bullying is becoming an epidemic. Consequently, youngsters and adolescents from all communities are reporting incidents of bullying by their “peers” and classmates. Many victims reveal evidence of mental anguish and debilitating depression. They feel physically and emotionally isolated from their otherwise normal social environments.
Innocent victims of bullying are often traumatized to extremes – to the point of feeling hopeless and “wanting to die.” “Society would be better off without you,” say tormentors. In any form, these comments can be fatal.
A cell phone in the wrong hands can fatally affect certain vulnerable individuals when used as a tool to inflict untold emotional harm.
Right or wrong, rational or not, these victims feel completely hopeless, sometimes literally at the end of their rope.
(An irreversible decision is sometimes made by persons at their emotional bottoms. Consequently suicide by hanging is frequently the result.)
Sadly, such trauma and anguish is entirely preventable. Suicide is never the answer; it’s never justifiable – a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
We’re All Susceptible
Regardless of social status or popularity, no one is immune to bullying or its effects. Unrelenting cyberbullying victimized the popular singer Normani Kordei of the pop singing group Fifth Harmony. It was so persistent that she suspended her account on Twitter. Disparaging racial slurs and insults often brought Normani to tears. In fact, she even suffered clinical depression. With support from friends she is now an advocate against bullying.
The increasing incidence of suicides by teens and adolescents is alarming. They’re evidently the targets of unremitting real and virtual bullies. All too often these victims are students with histories of exasperation with a resulting inability to garner support from peers or school administrators.
The time to take action was yesterday, but now is not too late.
Too Many Fatalities
This past June, a 12-year-old girl from New Jersey took her own life following weeks of cyberbullying by her classmates. Mallory Grossman, an otherwise happy cheerleader, died tragically at her own hands despite pleas for help from her parents. In fact, Mallory’s mother had met with school authorities expressing her concerns the day before Malory died. Mrs. Grossman felt that ongoing bullying was the cause of her daughter’s depression and poor grades. Insults through texting was a constant source of Mallory’s tormenting.
The conflict between “nationalists” and counter-protesters this past week in Charlottesville, VA is one horrific example of bullying on a grand scale. Unfortunately the violence, including the death of a young woman, Heather Heyer is another result of this country’s failing to learn from its mistakes.
Ironically, the conflict began in response to the removal of an “offensive” statue that represented another example of discrimination and persecution in this country—slavery. Similar disputes and statues around the US are prompting the same kind of discordance.
Perhaps we should allow certain “offending” statues to remain standing as reminders of our past history. Obviously we’ve failed in some measure to learn from the errors of our ways.
The really egregious mistake is that in some cases we’re allowing bullying to thrive, masking itself behind the right to free speech.
Now is not too late to learn from our past behavior.
We Will Overcome
It’s high time, we as a society, begin demonstrating love and respect for one another. We need to value each and every life as the precious commodity it is. At the very least, members of a community deserve tolerance, if not love and encouragement.
…but love your neighbor as yourself. Lev. 19:18
Keep on loving each other as brothers…and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Heb. 13: 1-3
Life imposes enough challenges on its own without the additional imposition of bullies. Thus, when, and wherever we witness bullying, we need to expose it for what it is, standing in solidarity against it. Bullying, in all its forms, is simply the cruel and cowardly projection of one’s own fears, insecurities, and feelings of inferiority, upon seemingly weaker persons or groups.
These days we see members of all kinds of groups fighting, marching, demanding equal rights, and calling for an end to discrimination. Therefore, it’s long past time to make an equally fervent plea for the end to any and all forms of pointless persecution of anyone.
Have you or someone you know been a victim of bullying? Cyberbullying? Now is the time to stand against it. Please feel liberated to share your insights.