BELLWETHERS AND BULLIES – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

When I was a girl in elementary school, probably around fifth grade, so I must have been about 8 or 9 – I started school almost a year early. It had to do with New York state’s cutoff entry dates for starting school. My birthday fell on the exact end of the age bracket, so I didn’t hit five until nearly the end of kindergarten.

If you’re a girl — maybe even if you are a boy — you remember “the mean girls.” There was always a clique of them. In every schoolyard, there was a Bellwether, the girl who — for no particular reason — was the leader of the mean girl gang. While she was usually pretty, she was not a heartbreaker either. She just had that inexplicable “thing” that makes others blindly follow her. A human bellwether.

You might think that a group of girls following each other wouldn’t automatically be rotten little brats. After all, they could follow each other and do good deeds. Help others get their homework done. Protect little ones from predatory bigger kids.

That’s never the way it worked. The gang was always mean. Physical and mental cruelty was their specialty. Taunters and teasers. Nothing made them happier than seeing others cry from being relentlessly humiliated and called names by their gang. Sticks and stones are only one of the many things that hurt. Words are lethal too.

Other features of the gang? They were stuck up. They “set the style.” They also had a radar capacity for spotting an underdog They knew who they could taunt until they broke down and wept.

I never understood them. Why behave that way? What do you gain? Are you that way because that’s how you were treated at home? Were your parents’ jerks too?

I came from a highly dysfunctional family. It brought my brother and me together and we stayed bonded until he died 12 years ago. It never occurred to me that making other kids feel bad would make me feel better. There had to be something else going on that I could never see.

Early in my post-professional career, one of the girls from the mean girls of childhood tried to make friends. Online. I couldn’t help it. I told her I didn’t remember her being my friend. I remembered her as one of the mean girls, never saying anything that didn’t have a barb in it. She never wrote back.

And now, here we are and the guy who supposedly runs our country is one of the mean kids! It was deplorable in elementary schools, but to run a country like that? Sometimes I feel as if I fell through the cracks of reality and am living in a place that merely resembles the U.S. as a physical entity, but otherwise, it’s a different universe. It’s another dimension where the mean kids have taken over.

We are all their targets because there’s always something wrong with us. Of course, if you really want to get mutilated, be any kind of minority. Skin color matters, but being Jewish isn’t bad either. Or being liberal. Or an atheist. Hating is easy. Love takes effort. It ought to be exactly the opposite.

It is my personal opinion that nobody hates one group of people. If you are a hater, you have a little list. You hate gay men and black people? You probably hate Natives, Hispanics, and Asians too.

Hatred is a lifestyle. If you are a hater, in your heart, you hate everyone probably yourself most of all.



Categories: Culture, Hatred and bigotry, Marilyn Armstrong, Photography, Racism and Bigotry

Tags: , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. I think this whole concept of hating others is promoted by organized religion, with its “birds of a feather flock together” notion that anything different from you is “the other” and should be, at best, disregarded and, at worst, hated and destroyed. And it’s what parents and clergy teach their kids. Am I being too negative toward organized religion?

    Like

    • Yes and no. It depends on which organized religion. Jews, for example, do NOT proselytize. If you want to convert, it has to be freely done, without any coercion. Christian groups usually have an outreach proselytizing arm. But a lot of those Southern evangelical groups remind me moe of Jim Jones than anyone who believes in anything. There is a reason this country doesn’t have a religion. More wars have been fought and more people killed in the name of a god who was anti-war than all the plagues in history. So yes — and no.

      Now I think most battles are fought for money. Greed is America’s god. Greed is the god of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think all schools have kids of this mentality. I attended about 13 different schools and i was lucky to escape such mean spirited behavior because I had 3 older brothers. They must have thought they would step in if there was a problem. They never would have. Our family was very dysfunctional and our Father never taught us a damn thing. Never taught us to handle ourselves or stick up for each other. He was a real screwed up Father. I do recall my Sister asking me to intervene with some kids that were giving her a hard time though. I did go down and show myself, but I was reluctant. Shame on me. I should have been proud to go down and smack some heads – protect her. Alas. I would definitely agree that haters, abusers, and bullies usually reflect troubled homes. Therefore they will always exist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our POTUS Bully has an inferiority complex despite his silver spoon youth. I suspect, if confronted, one on one – with no backup, POTUS would back down, uttering vile remarks to hide his cowardice.

      If you wanted to play the gutter game (Haven’ t quite reach that level but wait…wait) You could spread rumors about POTUS’ sexual impotence with threats of solid evidence should he deny the rumors. Trouble is you come away covered in the same slime when you play the gutter game. A shame.

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    • I had one of those fathers too. When he finally died, everyone was waiting for me to mourn. I didn’t. It’s more than 12 years and I still don’t care. He was an evil bastard.

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      • Very sad. Much wasted potential when you get that very important guidance and support.

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        • I still think, after all these years, that most adults don’t take childhood bullying seriously. They mouth the usual platitudes (“sticks and stones …”) and figure they survived. So will the kids. We DO survive, but our joyful childhood days are often ruined by bullies. Now our senior years are being ruined by a big, mean grown-up bully.

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  3. They always have since … forever?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Every high school is the same. I was picked on, too, and then one of my biggest abusers recently invited me to the high school reunion! Really? Even better – I once was sitting in the break room at work with a rather large co-worker when a new employee walked in. The new employee looked at my co-worker and said, “Hey, don’t I know you?” To which my co-worker replied, “Yeah, you used to beat me up in high school.” I got out of that room fast.

    As for the Bully King, he’ll get his. I can’t imagine the American people being stupid enough to put up with his BS much longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. With the exception of little children who have been abused from birth, we have to be carefully taught, as the song says, to hate and fear. In grade school, my mother instructed me how to handle bullies verbally, and I never had any trouble. Just lucky, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s a traumatic thing to live through…

    Liked by 1 person

    • And so many of us did. Smart kids who knew too many answers. Dumb ones who knew too little. Dark-skinned ones who looked different. Foreigners or even kids who came from a different state in this country. Poor kids whose clothing looked a bit raggedy. My assumption is that most of them came from homes where that sort of attitude was encouraged or minimally tolerated, but that was not always true. Sometimes, there isn’t any reasonable explanation.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. The mean kids and haters have taken over. Better people may win the White House and congress, but the damage has been done – a lot of people on my FB who 6 years ago were right-leaning moderates are now racist fascists.

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    • Were they living under rocks all this time? Was that hatred in there, but no one encouraged it to come out? So far, at least among my friends and remaining family, sanity remains. But the rest of the world? They really believe we aren’t having a plague. Maybe if they die then they’ll understand? All the watch is Fox News. I offered to finally send Murdoch back, but my Aussie friends said NO NO NO.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Most (not all) of the wackos are high school “friends”. I did remove a lot of them during the Obama administration if they said racist things, but a few found their way back and others didn’t reveal their true colors until recently.

        Actually, observing people, I think the constant bombardment of misinformation is making people change. I see the words changing. Six months ago it was about how bad Socialism was. In March, democrats became Communists (no longer Socialists) that are working with Communist China to destroy America. This virus “conspiracy” proves it. The word “Communist” was used for the Chinese occasionally in late February, but by mid-March, all of them were using it to tie Dems and Chinese together. The words they use create the ideas and reinforce them. But none of them will admit that their language has changed, they have always said this and felt this way. But they haven’t.

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  8. Haters gonna hate… such a sad state of affairs 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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