Bullying seems to be the word of the day – especially in the House of Commons as debate over an anti-bullying strategy begins. But I’m confused over what bullying actually is – and it seems I’m not alone. The incident that illuminated my confusion involves Jennifer Livingston, a morning news anchor on WKBT in Wisconsin. I’ve read the email received about Jennifer and I believe the contents might be hurtful and could have been worded in a more tactful manner but I don’t think it’s bullying. Compared to the things that my four older brothers threw at me on a regular basis, this email is mild. Let me quickly state that I don’t feel that I was bullied by my brothers then (or now). Their comments may have been hurtful at the time but quite frankly they taught me a lesson. A lesson that prepared me for real life – a life that isn’t always fair. No debate in the House of Commons is going to change that fact.
This bullying confusion reminded me of a comment that is attributed to Bill Gates when he explains that by creating a school environment that encourages mere participation rather than excellence, the students aren’t being prepared for the real world. Some kids are good at sports, some are good at math and quite frankly some kids aren’t good at anything because they don’t care to be good at anything, i.e. their attitude stinks. Those kids need to learn that if they don’t care about excelling in some aspect of life, they will be on the losing end of life. This isn’t being taught at schools. Schools teach that everyone gets a ribbon just for participating. That’s not preparing the students for the real world.
Nor does an often quoted saying – “Showing up is 90% of the success”. That’s crap. If farmers just drove to their fields and didn’t really plant anything or do anything, would they be successful? Are doctors who get an extensive education just supposed to show up in the operating room to be deemed successful? Of course not!
True bullying is awful, but in my opinion, some of the incidents described as bullying, really aren’t – including the Jennifer Livingston incident. Truthful statements and opinions can be hurtful but it doesn’t change the fact that they are true. If the email author had said that Jennifer was ugly, that would have been a lie – because Jennifer is a beautiful lady and she may even be a role model for young people but it isn’t as a result of her BMI. And if Jennifer wants to change her BMI, she can. It’s obvious Jennifer makes a difference in people’s lives and that proves that she is a role model, regardless of what the email author thinks.