A woman has been mocked about the consequences of her illness in public, before half the world, and everyone has laughed at it. In fact, it was probably a scripted “joke,” written by someone who doesn’t empathize with other people’s circumstances. Neither the presenter had the good sense to stop for a moment to think, nor did those present show disapproval of such behavior. We only talked about how inappropriate the ways of the person who came to his defense were.
Practically everything I read on the subject is polarized between: violence is not the answer and more should have been given.
This matter has made me think a lot. Firstly, because of the ease with which we consider ourselves judges and condemn or applaud an attitude without an in-depth analysis.
And secondly, because one of the main current trends in psychology and personal growth is to take responsibility for our emotions. And I agree 100%. The answer is never physical aggression, and I agree with that 100%.
Now, we find ourselves in a moment where revealing that a comment is offensive and disrespectful turns you into an “offended person”, who must manage his psyche so as not to alter the freedom of expression of others with his inner discomfort. Meanwhile, 6 out of 10 American teenagers experience bullying. In 2020 in Spain, 31.1% of the deaths of minors and adolescents between 10 and 19 years old were due to suicide (source INE). That year it became the first reason for death from external causes. According to Save the Children, bullying and cyberbullying are among the most important risk factors for suicidal behavior, and multiply the probability of suicide among minors by 2.55.
We know well that children do not do what adults say but what adults do. So perhaps normalizing jokes that ridicule other people is not setting a very good example.
On the other hand, human beings are gregarious, they are tribes, we live in community. Everyone is responsible for their health and happiness of course. But we also have a responsibility towards others, a social responsibility. Our freedom of expression does not justify verbal violence, abuse. And this tremendously individualistic position that puts individual freedom above any common good, any overall vision, scares me. Even above caring for others
Because ladies and gentlemen, that is what we are talking about here, caring, loving others. To take it into account, to not hurt unnecessarily. And as a collective, to defend each other when one of us (which is all of us) is attacked by the discordant element.
Now the tables seem to have turned, and although there are many better ways to stop bullying than a slap, I can understand the helplessness of a spouse, a mother or a father, seeing the suffering that words inflict on their loved one. Seeing his extra effort, day after day, to continue defending himself in good ways, without it serving to change the attitude of the harassers. Because it is socially accepted. And this is terrible.
How easy it is to overstate an obvious aggression, and thus dodge the bullet of reflecting on what is really on the table. More subtle, with more gray, but as hurtful or more than a slap. Because hitting is not right, we all understand it. The fact that not we all understand that mockery is not either right, is more dangerous.
Our personal growth is not ours alone. It is also outward, towards the big family of which you are part. Take responsibility for how you talk to yourself, your health and happiness. Love yourself and take care of yourself, it is essential. It is the first step.
And then do the same with the rest of the people. Empathize, respect, care, love. If you only take care of yourself it has another name, and it is selfishness.