I don’t watch the news having worked out a long time ago that the news was all about ratings and has nothing to do with news. Since we are wired for fight, flight or freeze I have a sneaking suspicion that the marketing gurus of the world make good use of this biological predisposition. Like it or not we have a negativity bias: “A term for our collective hunger to hear, and remember bad news.” A hunger which is well documented in psychology journals.
I am very deliberate about where I put my attention and focus so the news was something I culled years ago. I figure that if something is truly news worthy it will make it’s way to me and invariably it does. The same theme predominates. Bad news and negativity. The result, we become desensitized. I’ve trained my mother not to convey bad news to me with one simple question. “Are you sure this is something I would want to know?” If it isn’t she no longer tells me which suits me just fine.
Is it complacency or is it denial?
There is another trend I notice, complacency. I don’t know if that is the right word for it. I might just as well have said denial. Similar themes keep coming up and as a society we do not seem to move beyond them. Why is that the case?
Negativity taken to the extreme
Recently a young boy, just 13 years young, who was bullied for 2 years took his own life. He had not wanted to return to school after being hospitalized from the injuries he received at the hands of his bullies. This situation boggles my mind on so many levels. How many missed opportunities to intervene were there? The time frame is one thing. The number of people that either refused to reconginse what was going on right in front of them or chose to turn a blind eye from classmates to teaching staff to medical staff when he was hospitalized… Why did NO-ONE say or do anything? Was it complacency or is it denial?
What message are you sending?
A good friend recently told me of a child he knew who had told him that he had been put in a rubbish bin. The boy is different therefore an easy target. He is a loving man and the child a relative. It occurred to me in our conversation that event had taken place 6 days prior and yet he had said nothing. What message does this send? It could range from “no one believes me” to “I’m rubbish”; literally rubbish! The ripples of allowing that negativity to reverberate in that child’s life could rebound throughout their lifetime.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Why does this happen? A lack of empathy and a lack of leadership is the only thing that makes sense to me. If you are to be a leader you must first be able to lead yourself and the best leaders are high in empathy. Eradicating bullying only becomes possible if you have good roles models around you and a culture that does not allow bullying to take root. It’s an “us versus them” paradigm that both objectifies and vilifies “the other.”
It shows up when we elect politicians who slander other cultures and attack them for their beliefs, then make excuses for why we voted for them. It spreads when we allow wrongs to go unaddressed when we decide that it is better to not rock the boat. That is the very time that we need to find out voice. Speak up and be counted. That takes guts and it takes resolve. It also takes a willingness to take a risk. It starts with one person. Do not look at the person beside you and expect them to be “the one.” BE, the one!
Ask yourself the hard questions:
What are you walking by? Where do you not speak up?
Clearly, it is too late for Tyrone. Sadly he is just the latest in a host of kids who are bullied to the extent where they make that choice. Imagine for a moment how it must have felt to choose suicide over facing what he faced day in and day out. To do that you would have to transport yourself into his shoes and into his reality.
The Feed on SBS picked up the thread and if you click on the link here is an open letter from a mother who lost her daughter to bullying. Be warned it is upsetting which is probably why everyone could do with watching it.