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Monkey See, Monkey Do

Do you know what I’ve discovered this week about taking a vacation? I can’t figure out a place to go on the planet where there aren’t any people. I’m sick of people. If you scan the globe much of the brutality that is happening around the world is caused by bullies. Bullies are everywhere. No matter where you go—from your workplace to the Middle East to Congress to your place of worship—there’s always a bully trying to mess with you.

If the world were the audience of the old Oprah Winfrey show, you could almost hear her proclaiming: “WELCOME W-OOOOOO-R-L-D! Have I got a surprise for you: YOU get your ass kicked by a bully today, and YOU get your ass kicked by a bully tomorrow—go anywhere in the world, and you’ll get your ass kicked by a BUUUULLLY!

World in Chaos Gary McCoy Cagle Cartoons

Used by Permission: World in Chaos by Gary McCoy, Cagle Cartoons

In my disgruntled state of mind, I ran across an article on the “It Gets Better” Project by Dan Savage who birthed this campaign to try and encourage teens who were being bullied. I’ve supported it through my blog in the past and initially thought it was very good. But recently, I realized that as thoughtful as that project was, I don’t think it does get better. Can kids learn not to bully when the adults in the world own the franchise on fucking with people who they deem weaker or less than? Every religion has a major component of compassion within its ethos, yet history has proven that religious people can be some of the worst bullies. It got me to thinking that maybe we are all just six degrees of separation from a bully tango, even in situations that should be considered safe (houses of worship, marriage, friendships, the grocery store).

But what if we had the ability to call bullshit on the bully within ourselves and others? What if an Anti-Bully App were invented (adults only) that would sound an alarm when we or others stepped over the line of compassion no matter how right or empowered we thought we were in the situation? The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to explore the germination of bullying in adults. So I asked my alter ego, the “Dalai Mama” (sees all, knows all) to query her advice column readers for weird, quirky stories of bullying in which my proposed app would have been a handy aid. Below are some of those stories and the Dalai Mama’s response.

(Please note that even though the Dalai Mama is imaginary, the stories are all true. Only the names and the locations have been changed to protect the innocent.)

***

Dear Dalai Mama:

I used to attend a church where the pastor’s wife and two of her ladies in waiting had a three-way conference call with me and told me I should not leave home without a full coat of makeup. The pastor’s wife said I was being unkind to the neighbors. I have laughed about that for years, but it did affect me deeply. It is only in the last year that I can let people see me with no makeup. And when they do see me, no one has killed themselves. Go figure! I sure could have used your Anti-Bully App—if only I had realized I was being bullied. (Would it surprise you to know that the wife, who considered herself a “prophetess,” sold “Fancy Me Lovely” makeup?)—signed: Jezebel from Tennessee, age 63

Dear “Jezebel”:

I checked out this sorry-ass woman’s Facebook page—thinkin’ she must be all that and a bag of chips to say somethin’ like that to you. Guess what? She is no Halle Berry; she is what my mama used to call havin’ a face only a mother could love. Does yo’ man like how you look? Then that is all you have to worry about. Go on and strut yo’ stuff with or without makeup and act like you own the world, girl, because you only have this one life to live. Also, next time you see “Miss Thang,” tell her that I said, God don’t like ugly—hearts, that is.

Hey Dalai:

Zuckerberg + Facebook = bullying!  I avoided “the Book of Face” for years and only signed up to promote my book, Monsters’ Throwdown. My kids made me do it. They said if I didn’t, no one would buy my book. They said it would be fun. Well, they lied! The Facebook is not fun. People came out of the woodwork wanting to “friend” me that I didn’t remember. I barely could tolerate them if I did know them in the past, and could have cared less about chatting with them in my old age. If I thought they were stupid before my encounter with them on the “Book of Face,” they became verifiably ignorant after reading their inner-most desires and thoughts on their page. As quickly as some of them “friended” me, they “unfriended” me during the presidential election and left attack-dog Tea Party messages on my “liberal” page—“just tryin’ to set you straight.” When I changed my privacy settings, I’m told by Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times* that Zuckerberg kept changing them to less privacy without my knowledge. The Zuck kept demanding to know my business (how old I am, what schools I went to, what type of relationship I am in), and when I wasn’t forthcoming, he kept on and is keeping on demanding I cough up the goods. (I changed my birthday three times to protect myself from identity theft since Facebook insists on broadcasting to the entire freakin’ world that I am an old fart, and Zuckerberg had the nerve to indicate that he would only allow me to change it a total of three times, and then I would be stuck with the last age chosen. I am currently 85 years old according to Facebook.) Now I hear that Zuckerberg tried to categorize and study my responses by manipulating the news feed on my page to make me sad.* When I sent him a nasty note about messin’ with my mind, he said I gave him permission when I agreed to his data use policy. (It is 9,123 god-damn words—I never read all that crap!) I need an anti-bullying gun with Zuckerberg and all my ex-trolls (ex-“friends”) engraved on it, and I’m calling for a rumble on the Facebook campus in the fall.—signed, “So Over the ‘Book of Face'” from Somewhere USA, age 50, 71, or 85

Dear “So Over the Book of Face”:

You sound familiar. Is that you, Eleanor the blogger? Girl, go away. This is a conflict of interest. Plus, I only have one thing to say to your clueless behind: “Whoever writes the contract, gets the gold.” Or another way of putting it is “Whoever gets a free online service will get all her shit exploited—so deal with it.”

Bullies Types David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Used by Permission: David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star 

Dear Dalai Mama:

I know a couple that fought like cats and dogs and took home the first place trophy for bullying each other. To meet them as individuals was to love them, but together they were like two rabid demons from Hell. If they were invited to your house for dinner, before the soup course was served the woman would cut her man down for how he talked, how he chewed, how stupid he was, what a piss-poor man of God he was, and what a poor provider he had been. He would volley with how fat she’d gotten in recent years, what a bitch she had become, and how she got on his every last fucking nerve. In the past, she threw a pan of hot grits in his face, and he retaliated by slashing her craft room into shreds with his chain saw. The man died of a heart attack over a year ago, and the strangest thing happened. The woman was inconsolable. She threw herself over his coffin—weeping and wailing as if she had lost the love of her life. I had to leave the room when she and her pastor tried to raise the man from the dead through prayer and the laying on of hands as she screamed: “Rupert, come back, don’t leave me . . . I need you, baby!” Last month, the woman died. She left behind a daughter. Why is it that somehow I think the woman and the man are still trying to kill each other in eternity? There isn’t an anti-bullying app that could ever be made that would have cut through all their loveless crap. Some people are beyond the pale.—signed, “The Daughter, a.k.a, I’m Never Getting Married” from Honolulu, age 30 

Dear “I’m Never Getting Married”:

I don’t even know what to say, Baby-girl except I’m so sorry. I’m so very sorry. Some people will never change.

Israelis vs Palestinians Daryl Cagle CagleCartoons com

Used by permission: Israelis vs Palestinians, Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

I am discovering that if rearing kids has taught me anything, it’s that “what monkey sees, monkey will definitely do.” If we want our kids not to become bullies, we have to be on guard against the slightest trait of this within ourselves and model that behavior.

When I first started blogging, I was trying to find my voice, and I did a humorous puff piece on flesh-colored tights being worn as leotards with sort tops, thus causing major ass display whenever the wearer bent over. I found a picture on the Web of the back of a very obese cashier exemplifying exactly why this was a fashion no-no as her seemingly naked ass was causing people to cover their eyes and flee in horror every time her shirt hiked up. Some stranger had taken her picture without the young woman’s knowledge or consent and uploaded it on the Web. It had a million clicks as people laughed at her over and over again. I used the picture in my blog. Two years later a troll left a comment about my “ass-holy-ness” as a Christian towards this girl. I never answered the troll, but I did repent for my momentary bullying and deleted the post because the troll was right. I called bullshit on myself. We are all just six degrees of separation from becoming a bully, and the children are watching.

Bullies et al Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Used by permission: Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.”Abraham Joshua Heschel

“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”Bell hooks

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”Dalai Lama

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” ― Michael J. Fox

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? CHECK OUT: www.eleanortomczyk.com

REFERENCES

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/18/are-you-raising-nice-kids-a-harvard-psychologist-gives-5-ways-to-raise-them-to-be-kind/?tid=pm_lifestyle_pop

*http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-facebooks-user-20140630-column.html#page=1

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 
21 Comments

Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Are You Happy?

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  The Federal Government wants to start measuring our happiness as American citizens.   After all, our constitution does guarantee us the right to the “pursuit of happiness.”   What a hoot!  They’ll probably call it the GNH (“gross national happiness”) as opposed to the GDP (“gross domestic product” or the sum of our economic output), and that will be one more thing to worry about.  (Note to the Feds:  please do not give me a survey on my opinion of our sorry-ass Congress or the state of the Republican Party before you give me the survey about my GNH—results will definitely be misrepresentative of my actual state of being which will be highly agitated.)

Kingdom of Bhutan—“Land of the Dragon” (Photo courtesy of buddhanet.net)

The term, ‘gross national happiness,’ was coined in 1972 by Bhutan’s then King Jigme Singye Wangchuck but according to Peter Whoriskey’s article in The Washington Post (“If you’re happy and you know it . . . let the government know”), “. . .statisticians will first have to define happiness and then how to measure it.  Neither is a trivial matter.   There is even some doubt whether people, when polled, can accurately say whether they are happy.”

Photo courtesy of businesspundit.com//Google Image

Right now the Mega Millions Lottery which covers 42 states is worth $640 million, and I’m sure most Americans are secretly fantasizing about what they would do with that much money if they won it, because they are all assuming it would make them super happy.  But research has borne out the facts that 9 out of 10 lottery winners end up worse off than before they won the lottery and many wish they had torn up the ticket.  Because, you see, humans are creatures of extremes:  whatever shit you were addicted to before you were flushed with cash will simply get magnified once it is infused with $640 million.  Data has shown that if you were a gambler before the jackpot, you’ll simply become a person who bets higher stakes until the money is all gone; if you have an addictive personality before you win the extra Benjamins, you’ll become a junkie who uses a gold tipped syringe to “shoot up” rather than a stainless steel one.  And if your cash-infused habits don’t get magnified to the extreme, then relatives you never knew you had will come out of the woodwork and torment you for handouts until the day you die or give away all your money—whichever comes first.

Daily News/Google Image

So I’ve given this entire “gross national happiness” concept a lot of thought and since I’m old and have learned a few things along the way, I thought I’d write an open letter to our President in this week’s blog to offer him some suggestions as to what he should look for to determine if his American peeps are really happy or if we are just bullshitting him (not counting Fox News or the Tea Party—there is nothing that would make them happy except Ronald Reagan coming back from the dead).

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Dear President Obama:

First of all:  How you doin’?  My name is Eleanor Tomczyk and I’m one of your biggest fans.  While reading The Washington Post the other day, I noticed that the Feds want to start monitoring GDH.  Personally I don’t know how you’re going to accomplish that since we are such a desperate, angry bunch of humanoids.  But if you were to ask me, if you really wanted to know how to do this, I thought I’d send you a few tips to pass along to your census takers.

IMHO, Mr. President, all your questioners need to ask are three non-sectarian, bi-partisan questions and they will be able to determine the state of mind of any American in the land.

GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS SURVEY

  • DO YOU NAP?

Nap Time/Google Image

Here’s the deal, Mr. President:  I’m sure you’ve noticed that you are in charge of a bunch of really cranky, partisan people.  We are perennially pissed off about everything, and some of us are really bent out of shape because you slipped by them into the White House!  On top of all that angst, we love us some guns almost as much as our religion and lack of sleep and guns are a volatile mix!  Why, today, in a neighborhood not too far from where both of us live, one neighbor shot another neighbor over three trees bordering the property that wasn’t the property of the neighbor who got shot.  And the shooter wasn’t even the owner of the house—the owner’s father shot the other dude on his behalf who was the friend of the neighbor who lived down the street—all because of three fuckin’ trees (pardon my French)!  I think we Americans are on the verge of losing our minds just because we are so freakin’ tired.  I don’t mean to sound like an “old fart,” but we haven’t had a good attitude about life sense the Sunday Blue Laws were struck down.  Even if you weren’t religious and didn’t go to church, no matter how rich or poor you were, at least you could catch up on your sleep and read a good book.  It may be my imagination, Mr. President, but we could use a national nap time to up our “happiness quotient.”

  •  DO YOU GARDEN?

E. Tomczyk’s “Blush” Hibiscus

E. Tomczyk’s prize-winning variegated yellow Princess Hibiscus

E. Tomczyk’s Violet Wave Petunias

Mr. President, enclosed is a small sample of my flower garden last year (aren’t they fab!).  I’m recreating something similar on April 30th for the 2012 summer season.  As I’m sure the First Lady has told you, there is something about digging in dirt that eases the stress and elevates the endorphins, especially when Puccini’s La Boheme (or Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”—whatever floats your boat) is playing in the background.  (Personally, I’m rather suspect of a person who doesn’t like to garden.)  Mr. President, my American sisters and brothers need to get back into the dirt.  Anything as little as flower boxes outside our apartment windows to community gardens would help relax our minds and shrink our chubby waistlines.  Whether a person gardens or not, will give the Feds an excellent understanding as to whether Americans are happy or agitated as hell because they don’t have any dirt to turn into something beautiful to soothe the soul.

  •  DO YOU GIVE A SHIT ABOUT ANYBODY BUT YOU AND YOURS, AND HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CULTIVATING EMPATHY FOR OTHERS WHO ARE NOT LIKE YOU OR HAVE DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES?

Twins: blue-eyed white-skinned “Remee” and her biological twin sister, brown-eyed, brown-skinned “Kian” born in 2005 in Britain

Mr. President, I’m sure you know this, but I have discovered a secret:  we are all God’s children—just different flowers in God’s garden.  I know an alien from another planet would never believe that concept that we’re all created equal if “It” had dropped down into our country the past two weeks and witnessed the Trayvon Martin murder and miscarriage of justice, along with the attempted smearing of Trayvon’s reputation from the extreme Right, and Spike Lee’s stupid terrorization of that sweet old couple when he tweeted their house address by mistake in his attempt to flush out the murderer, George Zimmerman.  (Really, Spike?  Seriously, Dude?)    Mr. President, if you see Spike when you’re out and about would you please ask him what the hell was he thinking?

The other day I discovered a phenomenon:  Black and white twins born from the same parents.  Did you know that the chance of this happening is only one in a million, but in one family it has happened twice?  But don’t you think God purposely allows twins to be born of different skin and eye colors from the same parents just to mess with our heads and to illustrate a point:  we are all sisters and brothers under the skin?

Triniti and Ghabriael Cunningham—twins born in USA/ABC news file photo

 If we answer the “happiness” survey as people who try and consistently learn something that will broaden our perspective about those who appear different than us, then the Feds might find that our happiness equates to that openness.  Might I suggest that you have the survey ask how many of us have seen or plan on seeing “Bully,” the documentary about the realistic portrayal of middle school and high school students who are bullied—some to the point of suicide?  Have the Feds ask your survey takers if they plan on teaching their children not to stand by and watch the bullying of another child or if they plan on teaching them how to put a stop to it.  Our country’s happiness and future depend on us becoming more empathic to the suffering of others, not becoming bullies ourselves, and joining together as a nation to stamp our this scourge.

Courtesy of www.thebullyproject.com ||Contact this site for distribution of the film in your city

Thank you, President Obama, for considering my input and here’s wishing you and yours an abundance of joy and grace.  I’m pulling for you.

E. Tomczyk (a.k.a “Big Mama”)

P.S. I just have to ask, Mr. President:  Are you happy?

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I am discovering that money will come and it will go, things will always happen that we can’t control, and that happiness is temporal:  Joy is what is eternal.  Happiness is circumstance based and the circumstances can be destroyed in a heartbeat by mean people, the weather, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But joy is attitudinal and no one—absolutely no one—can take that away from you.

Author: “One Joy-filled Big Mama”//photo by J. Tomczyk

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”—Viktor E. Frankl

“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor E. Frankl

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
26 Comments

Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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