Day 1,441 – Thankful for Lessons from a Bully and the 22nd Amendment

First off, you may read this as a political post. Please note that the intent is far from that. Rather, when thinking on all I’ve seen, read, and heard over the past four plus years it is more a list of lessons I’ve learned through my observations of a bully. It would be easy to pound my chest and shout my political and ideological beliefs for all to hear (though none would most likely listen). In taking what I’ve learned through my journey of gratitude I would rather reflect on how I can live a better life from these experiences.

I also know that in writing this some may get frustrated with me, disagree with me, make judgements about me, and so on. I understand; unfortunately I understand all too well. I’ve often made the mistake of judging others off of something so simple as a yard sign. Part of what I’m writing about today is my reminder to myself of just how wrong that practice is and an ongoing reminder to myself that if I am to close the gap between who I am and who I am called to be I must continue to work on eliminating this thought process from my life.

The definition of a bully per Merriam-Webster is:

a blustering, browbeating person especially one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable

Again, it would be easy to judge and condemn a bully, wouldn’t it? From the outside we can see their cruelty and the impact their hatred and disdain for others has on the people impacted by them. It would be so easy to have hatred for them and wish them ill will, but wouldn’t that reduce us to their level? So how should we handle a bully?

Hurting others is never right and cannot be allowed or accepted. That must be addressed. Taking action to help others must happen to correct the situation.

In my humble opinion, the first thing to be done is a pause to reflect on ourselves and our own actions and intentions. How often have we battled anger with anger, hate with hate, and fear with fear? How does this fair? Never well. What best can quell anger, hate, and fear is calm, love, and hope. Before finding a way to take action against the bully we must first pause and find our inner calm within the storm, find a way to love our fellow human – even a bully, and hope for a better future. If we react like the bully are we not but a bully ourselves, a bully with different intent? Does that make us better than the one we hope to change?

Personally, I’ve struggled with this as I have seen President Trump as a bully. Through my eyes he fits the very definition shared above. Sadly, I haven’t taken the action to do what I described in the previous paragraph. Instead I’ve displayed those same bullying traits towards him. Part of the reason I’m writing this blog today is to help myself get my brain back into the right space.

One of the best ways I’ve learned to clear my head and find calm, love, and hope is to take time to learn from the actions of someone; especially through those I severely dislike. This is especially beneficial with someone I despise as I can’t help but find ways in which I’ve done the same. It hurts to find that commonality between my actions and those of someone I dislike, but it also helps remind me to hope for a better future. If I can find a way to change and grow so can the other person.

So what have learned while examining the actions of the bully and then looking at my own life through that same lens? This list is not all inclusive but hits home and reminds me of the gap I need to close in my own life.

  • Name calling is easy, never the right decision, and causes flare ups of unnecessary emotion. How often in my life have I labeled someone to minimize the issue, laugh something off, or demean the person? Has this ever proven effective? No, not in any meaningful way. If I truly treat others with dignity, respect, and love the actions of name calling, labelling, and judging have no useful purpose and make me no better than a bully. When have I used this tactic? Usually when I don’t have a solid logical argument or can’t find (or won’t be bothered to find) a better way to explain my thoughts and when my emotions gets the best of me and I lose my sense of calm.
  • Treating some as better than others is not the right way. There is no one sex, race, religion, sexuality, social class, economic class, or any other possible differences that makes any one human being more significant, valuable, or important than any other. When have I treated one group as superior to another? How often have I unintentionally acted in a way that showed a difference? What biases do I hold that I can change and learn from? How can I better stay open minded to the sacredness of each human being? Each human life is important and equal, how can I better treat them that way?
  • Using fear as a driver to motivation is not right. This thinking usually focuses on limited and fixed opportunities, keeping an open mind and abundance thinking lead to better outcomes. How have I moved others to action through fear? What would have been different had I focused on helping to find new opportunities for better outcomes instead of focusing on limited opportunities? Had I led with visions of hope and opportunity how would the outcomes have improved?
  • Treating everyone the same is not the same as fostering equality. Some people need significantly more help than others which means that not everyone should be treated the same. What do I mean by this? If someone has been oppressed, beaten down, or held back in some way they need additional help and resources to help them get back up on their feet. This is a core tenant of so many religions and philosophies – we must help others who need help. What this means is that to treat everyone equally means some people need more help than others. When have I gotten frustrated that someone has gotten more than me? How have I reacted when I felt something wasn’t “fair”? How can I better respond to help others who need more than I do? When someone feels someone else got more than they did how can I help them understand that this is right? If someone or groups of someone have been oppressed for so long how can I remind myself that they need more to bring them back up which means that others will not necessarily receive the same? This is a difficult one to remember, but easier when I think of my lessons in Scouts… “to help other people at all times…”

These are amongst the lessons that come to mind over the past four years. I’ve got so far to go to close that gap between who I am and who I am called to be. As difficult as it may be to swallow at times I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from a bully over the past four years. Yes, it would have been great to have learned lessons from a wise, decent, open minded, and loving leader of our nation over these past four year, but that was not what we’ve had. Full disclosure, I am certain we will most likely not have that in the next four years regardless of the results in November. What I will have is the opportunity to learn more lessons from someone to help me live a life closer to that which I feel is right.

Oh yeah, I did maybe mention something else I was thankful for in the title. Yes, I am incredibly grateful for the 22nd amendment today as well. Regardless of who wins the election in November I know I will only have to learn from them for approximately eight years in total. I can survive anything for eight years, and so will our nation.


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