I am watching my neighbor from a window as her body dissolves and disappears into a pile of dark smoke that rises up to the ceiling in a pink room. She leaves behind a bed full of human shit.
I had this peculiar dream a year ago in early August the night my neighbor died. When I awakened I could sense her absence. What surprised me was that I felt sad because this neighbor had never befriended me, although I had done my best to get along with her for so many years. There were things I liked about her; she had a good sense of humor, loved animals and plants, the color red. She could be explosive, and I understood that because I got openly angry too. There were periods during which time we had brief conversations but they were always punctuated by periods of what seemed to me to be inexplicable silences until I finally began to uncover a complicated and still incomplete story.
I could probably go on and on about this topic, so in the interest of education I offer the following information gathered in my own recovery. Why would I write about bullying at all? Are we not Goddess lovers, one and all? How would such behavior ever come into a spiritual path that believes all life is sacred?
Well, we all come to this path with all our old baggage. That baggage may include jealousy, fear, and a desire for the wrong kind of power, that which attempts to control others.
Bullying is not merely, as many believe, an occasional stinging comment made by a significant other at the breakfast table, a bad day with the boss, or children wrestling on the playground.
Bullying is cruelty deliberately aimed at others with the intent of gaining power by inflicting psychological and/or physical pain.
Bullying behaviors are varied: name calling, humiliation, spreading rumors, gossiping, public ridicule, scape-goating or blaming, isolating, assigning poor work conditions and job assignments, or denying holiday and vacation time in the workplace, or more obvious punching, hitting, kicking, taunting, ostracizing, sexualizing, or making ethnic or gender slurs, etc.
Judy Chicago, The Three Faces of Man from Power Play, 1985
On December 1, 2018, I most reluctantly moved off a stable yard where I had kept my beloved mare Boo, aka Queen Boodicca, for ten years. I loved the place. It was horsey heaven. Unlike many other local stable yards, the horses were allowed to go out in the pastures 365 days a year. Previously I’d kept my mare on a yard where they could only go out three days a week in winter, which was not at all good for horses’ physical or mental well-being. But here, on my dream yard, Boo was turned out in a 24 acre mares’ field with 360 degree panoramic views of the rugged East Lancashire landscape, including stunning views of Pendle Hill. Even the most traumatized, wound up horses chilled out in those big pastures. Our only worry was not letting them get too fat on the rich summer grass.
Queen Boodicca in action
I had nothing but respect for the older woman who owned the yard and ruled it like a matriarch, keeping prices low because she was more interested in accommodating suitable horse owners, regardless of their income, than in making a profit. The other women horse owners were wonderful and supportive. They was hardly any of the snobbery or competitiveness that can spoil other stable yards. Continue reading “Toxic Masculinity: We Need to Talk”
The Virgin Mary says #Time’s Up for Bullies: illumination from a 13th century manuscript
Bullying is rife in our society and it’s not just school kids who have to deal with it. Bullies flourish in the work place, in academia, in spiritual and religious communities, and, of course, on social media. Although female bullies exist, women, from my experience, are more likely to experience the most severe forms of bullying at the hands of entitled males. I would even argue that female-on-female bullying is a direct symptom of patriarchy’s attempts to divide and conquer us.
Just as #Me Too and #Time’s Up blew the whistle on sexual assault and workplace harassment, I believe we are in desperate need of a #Time’s Up for Bullies movement. One thing is certain–our current methods of dealing with bullies seem agonizingly ineffectual, to say the least. Continue reading “Time’s Up for Bullies by Mary Sharratt”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch the debate between presidential candidates last Tuesday. As John Erikson discussed in his post “The End is Nigh,” one could easily predict Trump’s sexism and misogyny, it was just a question of how his hatred would surface and whether or not he would tip his hat to “how truly dangerous he really is.” So, I compromised: I watched some of the debate, able to shirk part of what I felt was my responsibility to history for a more pressing responsibility, the need to put my daughter to bed. And, of course, Donald Trump delivered what his ‘brand’ promises… (poor) mis/re-direction, lies, bullying and incompetency.
You may be tired of the controversy about Chick-fil-A, but the events of the last few weeks revealed a big issue in the organization – that of discrimination and the illusion of religious freedom. However discrimination exists beyond the LGBTIQ community, it applies to Catholics and those “outside” their strict fundamentalist belief system. However, the hierarchy in the Catholic Church seems to be embracing many of the beliefs put forth by Evangelical Fundamentalists in the political arena.
When it was time for my eldest daughter to get her first job, she applied and was hired to work at Chick-fil-A. Knowing they were a Christian organization, I felt that she would be well treated and we could still have family time on Sundays. Everything started out o.k. but the longer she worked there, problems developed. First, when I stopped through the drive-thru to show my support as her mother, I received apocalyptic material in my bag talking about the end times, where my soul would go, and inviting me to their church. I found the material offensive and never returned. Despite the organization’s community support and “Christian” values, I was still fairly naive about their discriminatory practices that many experience on a daily basis.
“A Day of Silence” occurs tomorrow, April 20th. Created in 1996, University of Virginia students wanted to raise awareness of the bullying and harassment of issues that LGBT students faced on campus. Since then, A Day of Silence makes a statement against those who have tried to silence LGBT teens and young adults in school through harassment, bias, abuse, and bullying. Participating students, led by GLSEN, will hand out cards that read the following:
“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies in schools. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?”
The issue of bullying LGBT teens resonated with the world when Tyler Clementi took his life in 2010 after his roommate secretly transmitted via webcam Tyler’s sexual encounter with someone of the same sex. Tyler’s suicide brought national attention to the issue of bullying and harassment that LGBT people face. To my chagrin, while writing this article, another victim fell. Kenneth Weishuhn, Jr., a 14-year-old gay teen, committed suicide because of the intolerable harassment and bullying he dealt with at school.