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 (22lbs with a 13 inch tail) and he had a certain charisma that made him endearing to all humankind. He was warm and friendly, more like a dog than cat. He would even stand on his hind 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 them down to the floor and biting their 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 and in humans it’s not so much instinctive as 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. They (the bully) 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 nonthreatening unsuspecting individuals like a lion stalking it’s prey. The bully strikes with words (and sometimes violence) that manipulate and humiliate 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.
According to the website Those who can, do, and Those who can’t, bully website, there are actually several types of workplace bullies. The most prevalent is the serial bully who is obsessive and compulsive; continuously repeating the bully cycle, always looking for the next target.
At work the bully is often the person who has already been victimized in life. Given the opportunity of position and power, this new 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 psycologically whole, as if they were retrieving a part of their own soul that they had 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.
A bully can be spotted as one who leads by their position and not by influence. They use threats and manipulation instead of leading by inspiration and respect. They lack trust and instead feel like they must control every facet of their environment. They gain their need for fulfillment and satisfaction by constantly blaming and projecting their inadequacies onto their target even to the point of taking credit for their victims ideas and successes. They tend to have low self-esteem and lack empathy and are socially inept.
The bullying stops when the target resigns and then the cycle begins again with a new unsuspecting individual. Unfortunately, employers of these bully’s tend to be intimidated by them as well and will go out of their way to keep from dealing with them even to the point of promoting them.
We are made in God’s image and in His likeness. God is not a bully. It’s not His character. When we see bully’s rise up something somewhere has clearly 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 does not come naturally in humans but is a result of some injury (physical or mental). In short, these people we call bully’s live in a miserable state of mental bondage. As with any prisoner, they would rather be free. They are not to be pitied but do need help.
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”!