I was teased as a kid.  Some days were better than others and some others weren’t so great, but the fact is that from the time I entered first grade through high school graduation, there was something in me which drew the jibes, catcalls and slanders from my fellow students.  Somehow I was different, though exactly how I had no idea back then.  This whole business was made worse by the fact that for a great deal of that time, I was hyper-sensitive to that kind of abuse and could not control my reactions to it.  Quite naturally, this only encouraged my assailants to pursue my goat all the more energetically and frequently with similar levels of success.  I was well into my adult years before I had even begun to get a handle on how to face such attacks and recognize them for the incoherent noise that they were.

More recently we’ve seen the advent of political correctness, the attempts to soften speech in consideration for those who don’t deal well with unfiltered reality, with harsh facts or people.  We hear terms like “safe spaces” and pejoratives such as “special snowflakes” with regard to couching solutions for those who find the latent or blatant hostility around them too much to bear.

Obviously, I know something about that.  At the risk of recycling an old trope: been there, done that, the t-shirt’s a rag.  Back when I had to plow through the slings and arrows proffered by my fellows, the PC concept was as non-existent as any organized program with the goal of countering bullying behavior.  The kids who heckled me didn’t give a damn about how I felt about their harassment, and any downside to their behavior never reached my awareness.  In fact, when confronted with my situation, most of the school’s teachers and administrators acknowledged that they were largely powerless to take any meaningful action which would put an end to their behavior.  Worth mentioning too is the shrink I saw twice a week for too many years.  Though he did his level best, I can’t say that his input especially aided me or improved things much if at all.  In the final analysis, I just slogged through it.  It was neither easy nor painless, and yeah, there were plenty of scars, but I survived.

Reflecting on all of this, I realize that I have been a long time learning the following two lessons:

  • The world is not safe.
  • The world cannot be made safe for everyone.

Twenty-first century Planet Earth is probably more civilized than it has been at any time in its 4.5 billion years.  Violence – aggression of human against human – is at its lowest point in the history of Homo sapiens.  It is entirely likely that the human race will do even better as time goes on.  But … will we ever fully purge the desire or the tendency of one to act out on another, whether verbally or physically?  Honestly, I am dubious.

As for what this means for those who want the world to recognize and respect their sensitivities, all I have to say is this.  Some of the world may be willing to change for them, but all of it?  Never.  Won’t happen.  Political correctness and safe spaces are short term Band-Aids at best.  At some point or other, they can either learn to value themselves sufficiently and develop the strength necessary to defend against their opposition or resign themselves to living with the pain the noisemakers wish to inflict.

It's not a pretty solution ... but then it's not a safe world.

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Comment by Plinius on January 26, 2018 at 3:22am

all the systems I know are busily breaking down other people's self esteem, all the easier to get power...

Comment by Cane Kostovski on January 25, 2018 at 7:22pm

I agree wholeheartedly Loren. Self esteem needs to be nurtured by the parents and teachers of all kids. Siblings rarely are the same, so self esteem should be celebrated as being different from others, but still worthy. EVERYONE is worthwhile. Mistakes and all. To love your child/student is the best way to bolster self esteem.

Comment by Loren Miller on January 25, 2018 at 6:44pm

Self-esteem is an exceptionally tricky business.  I raised my daughter in an environment where, in some cases, it was self-esteem uber alles even in a gymnastics competition, something I commented on elsewhere.  Self-esteem should be based in WHO YOU ARE, not what you do or what you look like, and that includes whether or not you are physiologically normal or fully capable.  It should NOT be comparative, which too much fosters a me-vs-them mindset.  It should be based in self-possession and self-understanding, two qualities which are not at all actively pursued or promoted in most Western cultures, and probably a considerable reason why bullying happens.

Self-esteem is a topic which wants serious, comprehensive study if culturing it in ourselves and our children is to be successful and lasting, because right now, the prevailing attitude toward it is superficial and simplistic, and that serves no one.

Comment by Cane Kostovski on January 25, 2018 at 5:10pm

Joan said "Loren, I agree, individuals have to learn to take care of themselves. For those who have mental or physical disabilities, there either needs to be remedial training or financial and social support from the community. " . I disagree and here's how and why. I don't know if anyone else looked at the bully from the bully's perspective yet, but I will try to. What makes a bully? The need for power? The enjoyment of the suffering of their victim . What caused the bully to need power, to enjoy the feeling of inflicting pain? Low self esteem, physical abuse by their parent(s), being very poor and hungry. These causes are things out of control for the bully. The bully seeks things he can control and the innocent suffer. 

Throwing money at the problem will not solve it. EDUCATION designed to bolster ALL CHILDREN'S self esteem and careful evaluation of any known signs of child abuse in the home seen in a child's behavior. 

I grew up as different as anyone can be from the norm. It was my fortune to have been a straight A student and the son to be like in my family. I hated sports and still do. I have always loved science. Anyways, I digress. I always felt deserving of the best, but I also was ingrained with the edict that hard work and a good education would take me to the best that I can do. I lacked adults who could have taken the time to mold me. I just had my mom and dad who were poor uneducated peasants from Macedonia. I had no real guide to achieve the best I could do. Just the idea to go to school and excel. Nothing more. Now I know that critical thinking and the scientific method are so important, but not when I needed to know that the most. Anyways, my attitude always portrayed self confidence so the bullies shied away from me except for one time.

Lack of money is one of the causes of forcing a bully to act out. Probably the most important one. In a capitalistic society we could NEVER throw enough money at the problem. The solution would need much more than the society is willing to pay. That's why I recommend RBE. More about that at another time.

Social support was another angle suggested by Joan as a part of the solution. I the current culture, poor people, religious people, crave money and power, so some of them mold their children "to be a man", strong, fearless, business savvy, and a bully. Those kinds of parents are proud of their bullies. Usually they were bullies when they were kids and do not know any better.

We need to break the cycle of children becoming bullies. We need EDUCATION designed to bolster ALL CHILDREN'S self esteem and careful evaluation of any known signs of child abuse in the home seen in a child's behavior. I'm sure there are other things to try, will you share them with us?

Comment by BenGee on March 8, 2017 at 5:24pm
Wrote that on my phone apologise for the weird errors.
Comment by BenGee on March 8, 2017 at 5:23pm
Joan, I totally agree a society has a ethical responsibility to each other. The idea what everyone is "self made" is a lie. No matter how independent you are you've had to interact with others, and that means cooperation, accepting their offers that are beneficial to you. Lying and saying all people must do it alone encourages a world that treats some humans as a burden or worthless despite the fact that no one has obtained success without the help of others. It's similar to a sharp shooter fallacy ignoring all the help you've recieved over the years so you can feel better denying that to others, so you can feel superior to the. When they inevitably fall and you don't. It's messed up. It's desirable for all of us to work together. Still forcing thought and speech control is a direct issue to me. I'm against it when Christians do it and I'm adding it when any other ideological group tries to subjugate all of us to impose their morality. And that's really what this is.

It would seem that your position and mine are reasonably similar. I love hearing your thoughts, thank you for adding them :)
Comment by Joan Denoo on March 8, 2017 at 1:08pm

I could not post on earlier pages, so am coming to the front of the line, hopefully, to get my ideas into the ether. 

Loren, I agree, individuals have to learn to take care of themselves. For those who have mental or physical disabilities, there either needs to be remedial training or financial and social support from the community. 

There also needs to be efforts to find out the causes of the disabilities and find resources to either eliminate the cause or treat the condition. We are not born equal, physically and mentally, and that needs factoring into the system. 

Families often become bankrupted by health costs. As a society, we either let the bankrupted families sink under the burden, or share the costs of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. 

Individuals with initiative, ambition, motivation, and resourcefulness exist like cream floating on milk and deserve compensation for their efforts. Individuals who lack such attributes naturally fall through the net, they will take the jobs that require little training. The privileged who receive support, not because of their character, but because of their inheritance, will always be with us. I, for one, have little respect for lazy scions. 

Parents need training so that we do not raise emotionally handicapped children. Teachers need to understand how to develop individual talents, whether they come from privilege or poverty. 

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on March 8, 2017 at 12:34pm

I find the whole notion of political correctness intriguing because it’s become a shibboleth for both the left and the right. Also because it’s complete bullshit. The Guardian made a pretty good case imho for the contention that the great wave of anti-political correctness sentiment was instrumental in igniting *45’s campaign success.

The article also provides an extremely detailed history of the use of the term, contending that most Americans hadn’t heard the phrase pc until 1990. Interestingly, Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect ran from 1993 - 2002

Comment by BenGee on March 8, 2017 at 12:09pm

Lauren, i suspect people who live like that, who are over easily offended have a few motives going on. 

1. They never learned to control their emotions. And if you talk to them about controlling their emotions they will go bat shit crazy on you. I know I've lost a number of friends over that debate. I tell them that your emotions are the deepest most honest part of who you are, its totally ok to have emotions, that does not mean that your emotions are always right. At the end of the day its your rational mind that must come first, not your emotion. After I say this they never speak with me again. Keep in mind I'm not an ass I don't say this when they are distressed, we talk about it starting from a calm place but they are so threatened by the idea that controlling your emotions is a desirable state that they won't even stand to be around someone who thinks about their feelings and places thought above emotion.

I'll have to continue later, customer is outside. take care.

Comment by Loren Miller on March 8, 2017 at 11:09am

John, I just checked: your grade is 25%.  You might want to use second or third gear climbing it! [na-nu, na-nu!]

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