August 20, 2013

Gimme Your Lunch Money & Emotional Well Being. ~ Andrew Paciocco

Bullying is unacceptable.

I think we all can agree on that. It’s gotten a lot of attention lately through schools and new documentaries, which is great. But it’s reach goes far beyond the stereotypical stuffing someone into a locker or giving a swirly (neither of which I’ve ever seen in my generation, for the record).

Adults bully regularly and kids absorb it just like they do everything else.

Bullying may be more pronounced in children because they aren’t as jaded and closed off from the world as many of us unfortunately are by adulthood, but it’s all around us every day. Our adulthood bullying helps teach children that it’s normal and acceptable while continuing to keep our adult counterparts down.

How much of this do you portray or support?

  • Gossiping about what a nasty slut, how fat/what a freak so and so is.
  • TV flaunts bullying and teaming up against the lesser wanted or weaker people (enter Real World and most current reality shows).
  • Pop culture and companies like A&F that promote a set of values such as looks to make someone better than others and exclude the unworthy promotes the mindset that people are above the less “pretty” or “popular.” Our culture is drenched in various forms of accepted bullying.
  • Social media making it so that no one is safe even at home. Anyone can make a group titled “Andrew is stupid, fat and hairy let’s laugh at him” and invite everyone they know.  Yes, I have seen groups created by adults, specifically to demean other adults.

Clearly, I’m not saying anyone who partakes in these few examples and the dozens of others out there are “bad.” It’s what we do with them that makes each example what it is.

Social media can do amazing things; look at elephant journal and the mountains of other organizations for change and positive movements that connect people. Look at the History channel or Animal Planet or Discovery on TV and the mind blowing things you can see or learn.

As a person who spent the vast majority of grade school and after being, for lack of a better term, a dick and singling out the people I perceived as weak,I feel an overwhelming amount of guilt for allowing my insecurity to control my actions.

There are no excuses for bullying and if there were, they wouldn’t matter.

I can easily recall being teased and made fun of about my silly Italian last name and the fact that I was “weird” and didn’t have a lot of friends. It molded a lot of my lingering feelings about myself and people in general. I remember the changeover from bullied to bully around fourth grade after spending much of third grade trying to fit in with the cool kids and failing miserably.

I could list off situations that got me suspended and even expelled in eighth grade with probably dozens more examples that I can’t remember at all because I never got in trouble, but I don’t think lowering your opinions of me any further is necessary.

There was one person in my elementary school that changed schools due to the treatment from me and others. All I recall from the time was that it was all hilarious. You don’t see how sick it is when you’re in it as a child (and as an adult) when you’re using those actions to cover the pain you are avoiding.

Bullies are not self-confident people, they are not happy with who they are. Whether it’s a home life, an inner turmoil, or a past of being bullied and perpetuating it, there is sadness inside every bully. The easy distraction for that is to put a person lower than you so you can feel above someone.

To look back at it, to write it, it’s clear how little sense that makes. It’s ridiculous to fill your own void by attempting to cause a void in someone else.

It obviously doesn’t work and it literally destroys people’s lives.

How badly would you need to feel to change schools, jobs or commit suicide? All three happen every day.

“No one is free when others are oppressed” was a quote on the back of an Anti-Flag shirt that I had as a teenager (in fact I still have it, just a little thinner and holier). It was my favorite shirt. It is unbelievable how many times in my life that phrase has come into my mind outside of politics. Oppression is in many facets of life but in few as much as it is in bullying.

You’re holding someone down to elevate yourself.

We are all one, made up of the same molecules as everyone and everything around us.

We are all oppressed as long as we’re oppressing and allowing the oppression of those around us.

Absolutely no one person can save the world, but we can all work to do our part, to be mindful of our actions, to stand up for those around us and lend a supportive hand when able. Perceptions and norms only change by one person at a time making up their mind to act more thoughtfully.

Never doubt that compassion is contagious.

I’ve witnessed it first hand and it’s why I’m where I am today. I didn’t wake up a couple years ago and mentally decide to improve myself, I was gently shown a better path by those already on it.


Earlier this year I read a great piece on empathy and I really enjoyed this quote from it.

“If there is suffering, and we can do something to help, then shouldn’t we? Does it matter who deserves what or who is taking and giving?”

Maybe someone you know being bullied doesn’t directly affect you but if you can do something to help, then shouldn’t you?

This is a clip from a great documentary called Happy. It’s been around the internet in YouTube and Upworthy and if you haven’t seen it you should take a few minutes and remedy that now.

Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Assist Ed: Julie Garcia/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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Andrew Paciocco