Since Shepherdstown is often thought of as a progressive and peace-oriented kind of town, even a very "self aware" town if I may speak anthropomorphically, I was not surprised to learn that Shepherd
University was hosting a workshop on May 19th concerning the topic of bullying. The recent release of the film "Bully" also brings this issue to light. As I look back on my own school days, I can remember
that unmistakable fear as I passed a known bully in the hallway. Or, when a fight broke out, causing a blood-thirsty crowd to gather. I suppose I was fortunate that I was never challenged. Since I am also
of a peace-loving nature, I likely would have been pummeled, which wouldn't make for good drama.
But as we get older, we don't have to worry so much about schoolyard schematics. Fortunately, it becomes against the law to go about punching and kicking people. But it doesn't mean that grown ups cease being childish or tyrannical. In the adult world, bullying has to be more "covert" since punches, shoves, and name-calling are no longer acceptable as a means of getting our way. Bullying must now take on a more emotional and strategic form, which, by its very nature, can also make it that much harder to recognize.
I would personally experience bullying and harassment from my own kin when I proposed an idea for my grandmother's care that did not "fit in" with other people's plans. During this stressful ordeal, I would witness firsthand how greed was placed above well-being. I would also learn, in this instance and in other instances further down life's bumpy road, that it is very beneficial for the other party to portray you in a negative light. When you inadvertently get in the way of someone else's agenda, watch out. The games that ensue can make your head spin.
No bullying is not just for the schoolyard. I have seen it happen in families, in marriages and in workplaces. It happens when we force our own will or agenda on another with no regard for that person's will, or worse yet, with no regard for that person's emotional well-being. It can be accomplished through gang mentality, social pressure, or by just plain emotional intimidation. But, it is simply, where by our own actions, we create an environment where a person is not permitted to "act freely." The victims are often the sensitive-natured or the soul who, because of their own conscience,
aren't manipulators or game-players and may find themselves painfully out-gunned and way over their heads.
We're familiar with the saying "where there's a will, there's a way." Unfortunately, many adults abuse that privilege to the detriment of what is morally or consciously right and with no regard to the well-being of another. If Shepherdstown is a progressive town and is comprised of a people who believe in individual well-being and free will, we should never hesitate to speak up if we suspect bullish
behavior in any form.
Shelley A. Neuhalfen