I know what you’re thinking: REALLY?
Gun control is a concept as easy to enforce as tongue control would be for a bully. Here’s what I mean… I would support both if everyone played along. If all the bad guys willingly turned over their guns, I’d be more willing to turn over mine as a regular, law abiding citizen. But we all know that day will never come. Haters are gonna hate, right? Bullies are gonna say and do mean things. If we all agree that gun control isn’t the answer and tongue control is an equal impossibility, then what is the solution for our society?
In my school visits, I work to get kids to see their part in the problem and the solution. I think too often we are focused on what’s going wrong or who’s against our belief system, without seeing our part in the scenario. We all have a part. I’ve heard it said, “There’s his side, her side, and the truth.” It’s not that people lie; people just see the world from their own skewed perspective and forget to see it from anyone else’s.
Do you want to see bullying cease to exist?
I do. I could live the rest of my life without learning of a new school shooting or mass murder on a college campus. I could happily die without another mention of child abuse or spousal abuse. To me, the answer is simple, yet extraordinarily difficult simultaneously. In it’s easiest form–and what I share with students–is following the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule says to treat others the way you would have them treat you. Not HOW they treat you, necessarily. No one wants to be bullied or abused. No one wakes up in the morning and gets excited to think they won’t find acceptance or love in the world. So if that’s truth, then the Golden Rule in practice means none of these events would ever take place again.
But that’s like saying “Gun Control” or “Tongue Control” is the answer. They look great on paper and sound good in a meme. They just won’t work, because people are broken. We just are. Broken people are in pain and people in pain hurt. It’s really that simple.
So what’s the solution?
Part of the solution could be trying to live each moment and make each decision based off the Golden Rule. Truthfully, if we did that as a collective group, when one of us fails, the others would fill in. If we live others’-focused we will develop a sense of empathy, which will zero out our sense of entitlement, status, and ego. When you live by the Golden Rule, if someone bullies you, your first thought isn’t about how it makes YOU feel, rather what must THEY feel to be acting this way? It flips your thinking, and if we all did it, then 95% of bullying would disappear.
Another strength we could develop to fix this crisis is accountability.
Accountability means I take responsibility for my actions and words. It means I think things through and say words like, “I’m sorry,” instead of giving the middle finger. It means I don’t make excuses for my behavior. When people become accountable, they think and act differently. Knowing you can’t pass the buck onto someone or something else means you might have to do the hard work of changing yourself, or allowing another the freedom to be who they are and love them anyway. These things are not easy, but don’t we want people extending those same kindnesses to us? Don’t you want someone to be accountable when they make a mistake or extend grace when you’re the one who messed up? Here we are back to the Golden Rule.
Words truly do hold power.
We can build one another up, stand up for someone who can’t, and allow those around us to speak what they believe while we listen with courtesy, even when we vehemently disagree with them. We can let someone who is hurting know that we have hurt too and found our place in this world, in spite of our shortcomings. How many young people have nothing to build their hope on except the opinions of others who are also building their hope on the opinions of others? Throw a parent in the mix with an addiction or their own junk that life throws out, and you’ve got someone who feels desperate…dead inside…beat down.
Today is the day we can each decide to live by the Golden Rule. We can become the voice of hope for someone who is desperate. Our lives can be the answer someone is looking for. And through all of this, when we face our own despair and pain, there should be someone on the other side living the Golden Rule waiting to be our support with open arms. Gun control isn’t the answer. I’m not saying I am for or against it; I’m just saying that gun control won’t fix the problem it’s being attached to. Until we are able to treat others the same way we want to be treated, there will be no end to the destructive behavior of hurting people. While we can’t change them, we can change ourselves and in so doing, maybe…just maybe…they will begin to see hope in our lives and accountability for their own.