Not nice is it - been there done that I hear you say - and when It comes right down to it I guess we have all felt it to some degree or at least known about it - Heaven forbid we have even been a bully!
Bullying is not something new - been around for generations and had disastrous effects.
Bullying was certainly around at the time of Jesus - the Pharisees were the "Kings of bullying" in his time - they bullied everyone and certainly didn't like it when someone like Jesus came along - someone different with a message different to theirs - a message of love, hope and forgiveness instead of laws, rules and damnation.
So here we are in the 21st century and bullying has reached an all time peak or so it seems - we read about it constantly - we see it on Youtube and you just have to look at the net for countless ways of coping with and dealing with bullying.
So what are the hallmarks of a bully?
A bully is someone who in some ways I guess resembles a predator. a person who is on the lookout for someone who is weaker or someone who can be 'taken down'.
Look at the big cats of prey - what do they do - they are on the lookout for the weak or the vulnerable of the herds - they watch and wait for just the right moment - then they separate them from the crowd, wear them down with constant chasing and then when the moment is right attack.
It is like that with bullies - they love to separate their victims. Turning others against their victim is probably one the basic rules of being a bully - if they can get the victim to feel isolated, alone and vulnerable then they are ripe for the picking.
The aggression caused by a bully can be physical - like fisty-cuffs, pushing biting etc or verbal - name calling, ridicule, insults, intimidation, nasty glances etc or today through cyber space - quietly undermining the victims confidence.
Bullying like all sorts of abuse is perpetrated a lot of the time by predators who in fact are cowardly. They bully to get noticed and to 'win' certain friends. they bully to put others down and to isolate them from friends and relatives.
I personally have been bullied; unfortunately mine was with a sibling - being the youngest I was always more sensitive, cautious and far more quieter than my siblings. I also had a negative view of violence, I was non-aggressive and withdrew from confrontations, I cried often if attacked and had an anxious vulnerability, often gripped with fear and so was certainly a prime subject for the bigger more aggressive sibling predator/bully.
In so doing the bully/sibling took great delight in putting me down - making me feel unworthy and incapable of achieving. These negative feelings of a bully's victim can follow all through life and can affect the victim constantly.
No one likes a bully but no one really likes a continual victim either! - we need at some stage to stick up for ourselves and put those times behind us - or else we can become what I like to call an 'eternal victim' - forever the one picked on and having negative views of themselves and their abilities.
So what is the answer and where do we go to from here?
"Turning the other cheek" is great - and Jesus Himself said so but it is interesting to note that when He was facing his accusers before His vile crucifixtion he was slapped in the face by one of the brutish soldiers. What did he do? He didn't turn the other cheek so that the coward could slap him again but rather responded by asking the bully what it was that he had done so wrong (John 18:19-23)
Jesus, here, actually defended himself verbally. He confronted a bully and demanded an answer.
Jesus never contradicted Himself so why here? C.S. Lewis, explains it quite well "Jesus does not want his followers to be neither motivated nor consumed by revenge - He doesn't want His followers to return insult for insult."
I feel when a christian is confronted with something like bullying, self-defence is not the same as revenge. Lewis' essay "Why I am Not a Pacifist" hits the nail on the head when he says that "one can defend themselves while at the same time not abuse or demean another person."
Being the victim of bullying certainly doesn't mean that you have to remain a victim - God is our hope and strength in times of trouble that's for sure. With Him we are never alone and there is no need to 'throw in the towel', curl up into a foetal position and become a 'forever victim'.
Jesus Himself, after everything He went through, was NOT a victim. The cowards, predators and bully's however paid the price - just like they will today.
It is not up to us to seek revenge - If we love the Lord, He has got us covered in every situation. We need, however, to take control of the bullying situation, we need to take appropriate steps to defend ourselves and our loved ones.
Look to Jesus, He is the perfect example of how to cope with bullies.