I found a story on Twitter this morning about some new scientific research which is examining bullies and victims and has discovered that bullies very rarely suffer from depression and that victims suffer from it a great deal. It wasn’t a surprise, I have to say. A bully shoves other people around in order to get his own way and once he’s got it he feels mighty pleased with himself and on top of the world.
Victims on the other hand are always having to give way to the bullies, even when they know that it isn’t sensible or safe to do so. Is it any surprise that they have very little sense of their own value and if they’re being heavily and frequently bullied have little or no sense of their worth at all. All of which leads to depression.
But sadly the research doesn’t seem to suggest any solutions. And we are now under the rule of some pretty formidable and dangerous bullies, Trump being the most powerful and therefore the worst of all. So what can any of us, non-bullying, ‘ordinary’, compassionate and loving people do to prevent the worst of their abuse or even – if only – find some way to stop it before it even begins.
I have met and watched the actions of several, formidable bullies during my long life-time and I’ve been asking myself this question for years. Three of them are pictured here. But there were and are plenty of others. The one answer that has always come into my mind is that the bully should be opposed and that in order to do it there need to be a great many of us and we need to be organised, determined and prepared to be hurt when we take action. It’s a very high price to pay.
Mahatma Gandhi led the way and he called the technique that he was asking his followers to use ‘non violent action’ or ‘Satyagraha’. In one terrifying and shameful incident in India his followers sat in the road, in front of well armed and determined British soldiers, to protest against the salt tax which they all felt was blatantly unfair and punitive.
The first row of the protesters were clubbed mercilessly until they were bloody and unconscious. Then their friends removed their bodies and the second row took over and were beaten in their turn. It was a terrible test of gentle protest against bullying brutality, but in the end the gentle protesters prevailed. The soldiers had beaten and bullied until their consciences began to worry them and eventually they stopped. The event was photographed by an American reporter and published in the American press. It caused an international stir and was a turning point in the long struggle for Indian independence which was eventually and inevitably granted in 1947.
Could we use Satyagraha now do you think?