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Opinion | Bullying extends to all generations, but to stop it we must know the reasons behind it

Published: Friday, February 1, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 01:02

News flash: bullying sucks. The demeaning actions of bullies have been generating widespread infamy as news companies have daily slotted times for them. Bullying has become more prevalent as the social networks have expanded, allowing kids to post online statements they would never dare utter to someone’s face. I watched one Youtube video in disbelief, as a few teenagers harassed a grandmother chaperone on a bus for being “fat.” With the social advancement of our age, bullying is one point at which we seem to be failing.

Our society has rightly attempted to derail this new rise in bullying and push on toward a more tolerant community. We are currently combating bullying using things like anti-bullying wristbands that say, “Bullying Sucks!” (They’re similar to Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong yellow bracelets, just not going out of style as fast). There are anti-bullying demonstrations outside and inside of school that students can participate in. And there are countless celebrities that come onto talk shows to denounce bullying.

Through all our attempts to stop bullying, which I do believe are admirable and support the cause, they just don’t seem to be working.

Kids—and adults for that matter—are still mean. Children call each other “fatty,” and adults call each other things I can’t repeat here. And bullying lives on.

I believe we are not effectively fighting the bullying epidemic because no one is attempting to answer a deeper question: “Why is bullying wrong?”

The school administrators assume everyone already knows this fundamental answer. But do we?

We assume high schoolers understand that all people have dignity and are to be respected, but we continually undermine the philosophical backing for this statement.

We seem to live in a society with diametrically opposed ideologies.

In the humanities, we are taught on topics such as equality, love and justice, while in the sciences, based primarily on the philosophy of naturalism, we are taught about Natural Selection and the Survival of the Fittest. The philosopher Daniel Dennet once said that evolution is the “universal acid” eating away everything we believe. I think this might also be the case in our anti-bullying campaigns.

We straddle a chasm in the prevalent worldview we receive. In one class we stand for the equality of all people, but not knowing why.

In another class we cling to our naturalistic theories, not knowing what devastating ends they are capable of taking us to. I believe philosopher G. K. Chesterson said it best when he penned the following, commenting on modern man:

“As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time … The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist … is always engaged in undermining his own mines … Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt.”

Chesterson is uncannily right. We stand for causes, but we do not know why we stand for them. We cry for justice, but then find we have no standard by which to define justice.

In the naturalist’s defense, some would say that through our reason, humans could rebel against our selfish genes of ‘survival of the fittest’ and thus become an altruistic society. This argument, however, doesn’t make sense to me when we acknowledge that a machine cannot rebel against the processes that make it up. In other words, if our reason came to us only by the process of ‘survival of the fittest,’ then our reason would be incapable of rising above living out our selfish genes acquired from the process of ‘survival of the fittest.’

Our worldview is important and must make sense. It needs to be both logical and coherent, being practical and grounded in truth. Unless we can answer the question of, “Why is bullying wrong?” we will never be able to stop bullying.

Until then, we will have to continue watching Lady Gaga dance around in outlandish costumes singing “I Was Born This Way,” hoping against hope that the bullies will listen and oblige to her.

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