Get Real

As a fiction writer, I often bend things in the world to suit my needs. I try not to be obnoxious about it. I don’t intentionally defy the rules of physics (at least not in my crime stories), and I try to be realistic about all the aspects of my stories. Yes, there are plot elements that might be a little out there. I had a cop tell me that my plot line for Spree probably wouldn’t work in the real world. Law enforcement simply has too many technologies to allow it now. Of course, that’s his opinion. I don’t mean anything against him (he’s a Masonic brother, after all), but he’s fairly young. Maybe still idealistic about the limitations of LE. Or maybe he just knows more than me (not hard to imagine since I’ve never been a cop). I think if my guys do just as they do and keep moving and changing cars, they’d get away with it for the two weeks or so that I need them to.

Point being, I bend the rules to tell stories. A lot of authors do for the sake of story.

I think it gives me more of a sense of reality, though. I mean, you gotta know the rules to break em. I don’t mean that I’m perfect and always see things as they really are. I’m human. But I try my damndest to put things in an honest light in my everyday life, and that means I have some—I guess disdain is the word I’ll use—for those who refuse to do the same. I mean, we all delude ourselves in small ways, at least, no matter how hard we try. But there are those out there who, in my opinion, delude themselves in such major ways that they could rightly be said to have delusions of grandeur. And I don’t mean that in anything like a good way.

The people I’m talking about are those I call the PC police.

You know who I mean. Heck, you might even be one in one sense or another.

A few weeks back, my daughter wrote a blog post about bullying. It had to do with some event or other, Spirit Day or something like that. I thought it was a well written post. She talks about bullying based on research she did for a college essay. During that research, she found some psychologists, or child behaviorists, or whatever they call themselves (there are so many specialists these days I can’t keep them all straight) who posited that we’re approaching bullying in the wrong way.

See, the standard procedure, as I understand it, is we single the bully out and then proceed to berate—a synonym for bully, far as I’m concerned—them for what they’re doing. We say they’re cowards. Misfits. Antisocial. And who knows how many other terms. All in the name of bettering society.

Well, it seems to me that, when we—no, not we because I won’t do them this way—do this to bullies, we ignore what makes a bully a bully.

Look, I was subjected to bullying from about the sixth grade on, so I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of it. I feel I’m a reasonably balanced human being. Yeah, I had my problems, and the Army exacerbated them, but their roots lay somewhere else. I hated being bullied, and I won’t lie about it. But it didn’t turn me into some simpering cringer. I lived through it and, in the end, it made me stronger. You know, that-which-does-not-kill-me-better-be-able-to-run-away-damn fast stronger.

As contradictory as it may seem, when you stand up to the bullies, most of the time they’ll back down. Maybe even make friends with you. At least, in my experience. I didn’t stand up to the bullies when I was in school, though they did seem to slack off some on me in my high school years. I did start accepting their name-calling with better grace, even going along with the joke (or just ignoring it, which really takes the wind out of their sails). And when I came home first time on leave, their attitude toward me changed remarkably.

Never once did I call them cowards, though. Even when they tended to gang up on me a bit. I knew they weren’t cowards.

Bullies don’t suffer from some mythical lack of self-esteem, as the studies seem to think. Every time I see some study or other—whether it be bullying or climate change—the first thing I want to know is: who financed it?

See, here’s the thing about our scientific community: they’re always scrambling for funding, and it’s rare that they don’t know where their money’s coming from. So, if some UN committee bent on proving global warming is happening and is our fault comes to a group of climatologists and says, “We need you to find out what effect we’re having on the climate,” do you really think those worthies are going to go, “Well, hey, let’s publish results that go against the UN committee”?

Hardly. Remember that old saying about not biting the hand that feeds you?

Anyway, what happened with my daughter’s post was that a former friend who couldn’t deal with the hand life dealt her decided to put in her two cents’ worth and accused Jesi of making excuses for bullies and admitting to being one (which she did, though she said she’d been one in school). Now, I’m not going to go into detail on what’s happened to this person. Those details are her life and I don’t feel I have a right to publish them on my blog.

But, from what I understand, she’s the kind of person who blames everyone but herself for her problems. And she’s part of the crowd that tends to flock to the PC police.

See, these are the people who want to make the world a better place. I have nothing against that. But the only way to truly achieve that is to recognize reality for what it is, not what you want it to be. And they call bullies cowards and other things, do studies that say bullies are bad people who need all kinds of counseling and God knows what else, but never stop to think what would happen if they—as Jesi proposes—were to help the bully channel all that aggression in a positive way.

What if, for instance, they said, “Why don’t you use your self-confidence to help this other person gain some of his own?” I mean, these bullies are operating on instinct: survival of the fittest. Weed out the weak for the good of the group. But we don’t really need to do that as much any longer (though I have my own thoughts on that, too). We have a place in society for the nerds and brainiacs. Problem is, these are the ones picked on, so they don’t blossom as they should, at least not when they should.

But what of the bullies decided to lend their brawn to the nerd’s brains?

I know what I’m saying might seem as fanciful as anything I’ve griped about. But if these people, these bullies, were pointed in the right direction, they could achieve a lot for the rest of us. We need strong people just as we need the inventors and others like them. We just gotta get the bullies to see this.

And we’re not gonna do it by calling them names and giving them guilt complexes. When we do that, we turn them into victims. Of our own socially accepted bullying.

Think about that.




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