Thursday, January 7, 2010

Yes, They Most Certainly Want You to Be Helpless

I ended my last post with: "Our educational system was designed precisely to condition our children into docile dependency and mindless conformity...the hallmark characteristics of sheeple."

I forgot to add defenseless and vulnerable...just like a sheep led to slaughter.

Reading this post by Talleyrand in which he notes how school indoctrinate students with the following values:

Don’t be a bully (also known as all violence is evil, even when you defend yourself, be a rat instead and go to the teacher authority figure)

This reminded me of an incident I experienced when I was in the seventh grade.

I used to get bullied all the time -- as I've written about before, I was raised by a domineering mother who constantly told me it was wrong to fight, that I should always tell the teachers/school people if I was being bullied or attacked, etc. In one instance, a particular kid used to bully me all the time, and one day I just got sick of it.

I didn't have the courage, knowledge or experience to stand up to him at that age, but when he tried to make me give up my seat on the school bus one day because he wanted to sit next to the window, I simply refused to move.

He began to threaten me, but I was angry and fed up with the bullying, and I just ignored him.

He jumped on me and began to pound on me relentlessly, and I never fought back. I just covered up and waited for someone else to rescue me.

Since this was after school, this occurred while we were boarding the bus while still on School grounds, and the lady bus driver summoned the security guards (who were always stationed at the bus stop area after school) to come onto the bus and 'Breakup the fight' (more like a one-sided beat-down of yours truly).

I will never forget the looks of pity and contempt from the girls on the bus (particularly the girl I had a crush on at the time), and disgust from my friends, as the guards grabbed me and the bully and escorted us off the bus. See, this was a "fight" so I had to be dragged to the Vice Principals office at the same time as the bully.

Needless to say, the bus driver came into the office and told the Vice Principal what had actually happened, that I had not fought back, that this kid attacked me, and I did nothing wrong.

The VP began to berate the bully, he began crying, and the VP literally walked over and began to pat my head and rub my shoulders. I don't remember what she said, but she gave him a 3 day suspension and a month of detention and told him he was not allowed to ride the bus home that day, they were going to call his parents to come pick him up. She than told him to go to the bathroom and wash his face.

When he left, she began to praise me for "not fighting" and for being a good boy etc. I don't remember her precise words, but it was praise. She essentially patted me on the back and reinforced the notion that I was a model student for "non-violence." She called my mom and told her what happened, and put me on the phone with her so that my mom could tell me how proud she was of me for not fighting back.

To this day, the memory of this event fills me with nausea. It's one of my primary motivations I've had in pushing myself to train martial arts for so hard and for so long. That sense of helplessness, weakness and impotence in the face of violence has hurt and scarred me far more than the punches the bully reigned down on me that day.

I was teased by many boys and my friends for weeks after that for being a "wimp" and a "pussy" and a "fag" for not fighting back. It was utterly disgraceful, and I wouldn't even look at, much less talk to the girl I had a crush on for months after wards. That was probably the biggest blow to my 13 year old self-esteem; knowing the one girl I was head over heels infatuated with, was there to witness my humiliation that day. While that boy never did bully me again (I think he got into a lot of trouble with his own parents for being suspended), other bullies knew an easy target when they saw one. The bullying on me over the next few years by others intensified and escalated. It only ended when I finally fought back against a bully when I was a sophmore in high school.

Knowing I was getting bullied mercilessly, my Father took me on the side one day -- well out of ear shot of my mother for fear she would hear him and yell at him for teaching us kids to be violent -- and he told me that the next time I got bullied, I should punch the kid right in the nose as hard as I could. Even if the bully proceeded to kick my ass, it would end my bullying problems, because bullies will only pick on kids that are easy victims who take it.

My Dad's advice worked, I did get my ass kicked, but I did bust up a bully's nose pretty badly, and I no longer got bullied much from that day forward.

I just wish my Dad did not let my mother cooperate with the School system in making me a docile victim several years earlier.


Anonymous said...

I got in a bus fight in 10th grade. Bully picked on me, I punched him in the nose as hard as I could.

Girls on the bus loved it. =)

RP-in-TX said...

Great post! I think that how our parents teach us to deal with bullies and aggression as kids has a huge effect on our personal relationships as adults. Zero tolerence policies are destroying a generation of young men.

In 4th grade one kid would hit me in the back of the head and then run off after school every day. This went on for a month until my mother saw it happen and told my dad. He asked me why I hadn't fought back. I told him I was afraid I would get in trouble. He then said this:

"You had better be more afraid of me. If he does it again and you don't fight back, I'll whip your butt as soon as you get home. You don't worry about what the school does."

The next day the kid hit me again, and I chased him down a walloped him. A teacher pulled me off and I went to the principals office, but my mom told them the whole story and they let me off. When I got home my dad said "You did good boy".

I've always remembered that. I got in dozens of fights through the rest of my school years and lost far more than I won, but I never got in trouble at home and I never again got bullied at school.

Carl Sagan said...

Interesting story.

My experience was totally the opposite and I think it boils down to 3 reasons:

1) I had an older brother (no sisters). My parents let us fight. These weren't minor fights. They got quite vicious at certain points.

2) I played all of the rough sports growing up (ice hockey and lacrosse). I mean we were going out there looking to hurt guys half the time. I was (and still am) very athletic.

3) When I was 13 I got into my first fist fight at school. I one punched a guy in the face. This guy was the supposed "tough guy" in school (mainly because of his physical size). After this one punch I became a HERO. People thought I was amazing. I never, EVER worried about being bullied or getting into fights throughout high school. I had built some kind of reputation. People thought I was a guy you didn't want to fuck with. As for the bully? He was quite socially awkward and so became an outcast during high school. I still talked to him on occasion and we were on good terms.

John Smith said...

first time i came home with a split lip, my dad looked at me and quietly asked me out of earshot from my mom, "did you win?"
"Yeah. I hit him a lot."

RP-in-TX said...

Funny how in the post and almost every single comment our dads told us to fight back. That tells a lot. Damn, guys who get raised by single mothers must really get shafted.

MarkyMark said...


Sadly, I can relate to your childhood, because I didn't stand up for myself like I should have. I didn't get the balls to do it till I reached adulthood, either. I just didn't have the courage.

In Navy boot camp though, I began to find my courage. I remember going through fire fighting training; every sailor has to take it, because on ship, the crew IS the fire department! Anyway, I found myself on #1 nozzle for our drill. We were to put out diesel fuel fire; they were going to torch 300 gallons of the stuff, and we were to put it out. Being one of the nozzlemen, I was going to be right there on top of it. My legs were shaking; I mean, my knees were LITERALLY knocking! It was so bad that I had some guys behind me offer to take my place.

I refused though. It wasn't because I wanted to do it; I didn't. It was because I knew that, sooner or later, I had to face my fears; sooner or later, I had to find my courage. I think that, in that moment, I instinctively knew that this was now or never for me; I knew that, if I didn't face down my fears then, I never would. Though it took me a while longer to really find some backbone, that day @ firefighting school was my first step to personal growth and empowerment.

Finally, in my early 20s, I decided to do something about standing up to bullies, so I studied Tae Kwon Do; I figured that, with my long, strong powerful legs (thanks to years of skating & biking), the style would be a natural for me. The thing is this: once I learned how to take care of myself, I no longer HAD to...

This was a good post. Unfortunately, it took until adulthood to do what you did while still in school. Fortunately, I DID learn my lesson, though I wish I'd done so earlier. Better late than never, I guess...


Anonymous said...

I've only had run-ins with bullies maybe half a dozen times, but the only times I lost out were the times I didn't put up a fight. Like you, those couple of times are still with me today as my worst moments. Likewise, the times I did put up a fight and settled the account are still with me as my best moments - and probably did a world of good to the bullies as well.

Anonymous said...

Funny how in the post and almost every single comment our dads told us to fight back. That tells a lot. Damn, guys who get raised by single mothers must really get shafted.

It depends. My mom told me to fight back, but she was pretty old-school. She certainly didn't believe in this newfangled idea that giving a child a whupping when he misbehaves inflicts permanent, serious psychological damage...

dienw said...

I was defending myself until I was eight years old at which time my mother told me I was to big to get into fights: ruined me. Only when I was in my late teens did I start re-establishing my place in the family pecking order and being unconcerned if I got into a fight.

Anonymous said...

I never got encouraged to fight by my parents, but they never gave me a lot of shit about it as long as I didn't get in any trouble that they had to bail me out of.

I got picked on a little in junior high, but I had pretty much put a stop to that by high school. The trick, in the age of cctv in the hallways and cops on the school grounds, is not to be SEEN retaliating, but to retaliate as viciously as possible when you have the opportunity.

For instance, a guy used to talk a bunch of shit to me in the hallways, threatening to kick my ass, calling me a pussy,etc., every day. He would also hit me with his shoulder every time he walked past me,so one day, I took a sharpened pencil and held it up to my shoulder with the sharpened end toward him when he did it, and pushed back.

He never attempted it again.

thayer said...

Off topic

Hi Keoni Galt

Can you email me? Something I'd like to discuss with you.


Nick39 said...

Amazing how thoroughly mothers try to ruin their son's lives. My mother was another one of those "all violence is evil" types. I too spent years avoiding fights and seething over it without really knowing why, before turning to martial arts and making up for lost time.

globalman100 said...

HL, that experience so sucks. Young boys need to learn how to fight and need to be confident to do so.

When I was 9 my uncle sat me down and said something like:
"GM, you want to play football? You gotta make the other kids fear you. They gotta get them so they don't want to go near you. So what I want you to do is this. Every time you run onto the football field you run right over to the biggest kid on the other team and you smack him in the nose as hard as you can and you yell and scream at him that if he comes near you again you beat him to a pulp. He won't come back and all the other kids will fear you."

Sure enough, I did that for about a year until I was 10 and word got around. This GM kid was 'crazy' and 'violent' on the football field it was just better to just let him have the ball. Alas, I was a 'late grower' and so when I was 15 and small I got my arse handed to me a few times. LOL!! But that was fine. It was part of growing up.

How did that 'violence' serve me? I was in Bucharest recently and three guys pulled a scam on me trying to steal my laptop. It was a well known scam. There were plenty of guys pulling it on hapless visiting businessmen. When I realised they were lining me up to rob me I just told them:
"Look guys, I know you want to rob me, and if you do I am going to chase one of you down and I am going to beat that fucker to death. Now, do you still want to rob me or do you want to just fuck off." They decided discretion was the better part of valour that day.

Anonymous said...

The really funny part of the anti-bully campaigns is that they have zero effect on the bullies. If anything, they are encouraged by it since manipulating adults becomes as natural to them as breathing. Just like in adult life, guys who don't follow the rules learn quickly that they really can get away with murder.

The farthest extreme of this is the "stomp out cyber-bullying campaign". Because calling some 12 yr old girl a skank on your facebook page is just like threatening her with violence if she doesn't give up her lunch money.