Something I witnessed not long ago has had me rather upset. I was at an after hours party at a friend’s house and had brought another friend, James, along. James and I were standing around talking to another person (as people are wont to do at parties) when this other person reached over and backhanded James on the cheek in a very offensive way. It offended me so much so that I instantly began to chide this other person on the inappropriate nature of his action, whether it be toward my friend James or any other person.
This scene has literally niggled at my mind since then, leaving me more and more disappointed each time I think of it. This larger man reached over and smacked James – not overly hard; but not caressingly – in such a way as to express dominance over and belittle him. This wasn’t a taunt committed across a playing field in sport, which would have been a foul in almost any game. It wasn’t a joke. And it certainly wasn’t funny. And I am still reeling over the sudden realization that a guy I thought of as an amicable acquaintance – if not a friend – is really just a big bully.
Let me tell you a little bit about this person. His civic resumé reads like a model citizen. He volunteers with the local VFD and for a branch of the local community chest. He is involved with some church or other. His family owns a local business. He works full-time. He is also gay, which might lead one to assume he has an understanding of the damage bullying can cause. But alas, no dice.
This has been a huge lesson for me. Bullies come in all colors, shapes, sizes, ages, incomes and sexual orientations.