Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:28
When most people think of butterscotch they think of the candy. When I think of Butterscotch I think . . . BULLY! You see, Butterscotch was the name of a cat we owned who charmed everyone he came in contact with except for the other two felines in our house that he frequently pestered.
Butterscotch was bigger than most cats (22 lbs. with a 13 inch tail) and he had a certain charisma that made him endearing. He was warm and friendly, more like a dog than cat. He would even stand on his back legs like a canine and give you a hug.
Sadly, Butterscotch was also a bully. He had a way of controlling and tormenting the other two cats we owned. One was even his sister. When Butterscotch wanted our attention he would pounce on the closest feline, pinning her down to the floor and biting her neck. Cat hair would go flying and there would be loud screeches to the like of which are only heard in horror movies.
After a little research I discovered that the bully in him was instinctive. He was the Alpha cat. If one of the other cats was feeling poorly Butterscotch sensed it, and the bullying began. This was not something he had to think about. It was natural. He instinctively picked on the vulnerable to assert his control. In the animal world this is just a part of nature. The survival of the fittest, a part of God’s plan.
There has been much discussion in the news lately about bullies particularly among children and teenagers. This behavior isn’t new for us humans, however it’s not so much instinctive as it is an act of our own free will. This “will” we have, at times, can become terribly twisted.
Do you remember the bully in your school? I sure do. Unfortunately, every school has a few. I was bullied one school year for wearing the wrong kind of clothing.
Bullies pick out the weak, the most vulnerable, the person that doesn’t dress like everyone else, or is smaller or different because of their socioeconomic status or ethnicity. Whatever the distinction, they zero in on these unthreatening, unsuspecting individuals like a lion stalking its prey. The bully strikes with words (and sometimes violence) manipulating and humiliating in order to kill the soul of their victim. In the bully’s mind it’s for his greater good to build himself up in the eyes of those that would follow him. And followers he has. Studies show that 85 % of bully’s have a band of followers who hope to reap some of the glory and social gain of the kill. Sounds pretty sick doesn’t it?
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:19
Where do these behaviors come from? The temptation to bully (as with any sin) is all around us. Research says that any child or teenager can be drawn into bullying. It is a learned behavior often time modeled by a parent or peer. Many groups have been formed in an effort to bring attention to and an end to the problem of teenage bullying. If these behaviors are not resolved in childhood, the ramifications as an adult can be far worse.
Bullying behavior in the adult work environment can become like a cancer; slowly killing off one career at a time.
At work, the bully is often the person who has already been victimized in life. Given the opportunity of position and power, this perpetrator tries to heal their own wounds by bruising and wounding others. Every time they subdue their target by control, in some strange way they feel psychologically whole, as if they were retrieving a part of their own soul they lost as a victim. Feeling inadequate in their workplace positions they are predatory and opportunistic always visualizing their next score.
These bullies usually attack those who are honest and trustworthy, empathetic, have a strong sense of honor, and good sense of humor; those who are giving, and selfless, not particularly assertive and those who actually do their jobs well but who may appear vulnerable.
The bullying stops when the target resigns and then the cycle begins again with a new unsuspecting individual.
We are made in God’s image, in His likeness. And God is not a bully. When we see a bully rise up something somewhere has gone terribly wrong.
When you witness this behavior in children and teenagers, reach out to them and pray for them. Help these kids find their way back.
When you see an adult acting this way, my first advice is to get out of harms way. Then pray for them all the more. Bullying is a result of some injury (physical or mental). In short, these people we call bullies live in a miserable state of mental bondage. As with any prisoner, they would rather be free. They need our help. Our prayers.
Butterscotch, my cat, did what came natural to him. He did what he was made to do. He was a bully by nature. A little aggravating at times, but he was a cat after all and he had no reasoning skills. God in His wisdom didn’t give him any. I’m thankful for that. I’ll take a cat bully over a human bully any day. I can always put the cat in the “dog house”!
I’m linking up today with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday Come join us.