Having spent five years teaching in the public school system, I have many thoughts on bullying.
I’ve learned that what I consider a light tease towards a person I don’t know too well, but actually kinda like, may instead be salt in an unseen wound.
I’ve learned that what some call bullying may be only a blink-of-an-eye pattern that happens twice and strains the classic definitions, but should be resoundingly educated against regardless of what label it falls under.
I’ve learned that despite those definitions, some bullying does have the stronger individual on the receiving end. Nobody is impregnable.
I’ve learned that bullying doesn’t just come from one-parent kids on the wrong side of the tracks, but from children of popular and powerful families as well.
But most of all, I’ve learned that kindness is not just niceness. In this world where we get ten negative comments to every positive one, a kind word is water in the desert. Some people out there would give their next meal for one.
So when Rachel Held Evans last week took aim at the viral anti-bullying campaign #WalkUpNotOut, intended to replace school walkouts with acts of kindness towards unknown peers, you can imagine I rolled my eyes.
This tweet misses the point in so many ways that it could be a kicker for the Seahawks.
Evans’ voice is joined by the usual left-wing cacophony about how treating people well won’t end school shootings. That’s a classic example of a “straw man” – an argument nobody was making, erected in the hasty fear that it might crowd out their preferred solutions. It also forgets that plenty of people blame the shooter for his actions, not the victims. Now Rachel has this tweet out there, copied by itself into meme form, without the benefit of her later clarifications, looking like she dismisses outreach as “being nicer”. I doubt she actually does, but…hard lesson of social media there, Mrs. Evans.
I do agree that violence will never completely cease this side of the mirror dimly. We fight it, we pray against it, we make laws against it (and argue which ones to pass), we avoid it ourselves, and that’s all proper and urgent. Yet only heaven will bring order and peace.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing whatever is within our reach. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have as many hoses on this fire as possible. #WalkUpNotOut has the nice distinction of being something we can control, right here, right now.
Most of all, however, we should walk up to people because…it’s the Gospel.