Saying “no” to bullies

When I was in the 7th grade, I had my first encounter with a bully who got it in his head that he wanted to fight me. I don’t remember his reasoning – probably just because I was a skinny, nerdy looking kid and I was an easy target, but for whatever reason he cornered me in the lunchroom one day. Well, I didn’t know what to do! I’d never been in that situation, so I quickly went through my options. I could try and talk my way out of it. I could run. I could punch him in the nose and hope for the best. But as it turned out I didn’t have to do any of those things.

As it turned out a friend of mine noticed what was happening and came to my rescue. My friend, who I will identify only as J., stepped right in between me and the bully and looked the bully right in the eyes. Now J. was shorter than both me and the bully, but J. was known for being a tough kid that you don’t mess with. What J. did next was something right out of a movie (or should be). J. stared at the bully for a moment and then all he did was shake his head “no.” The bully knew that that meant he was to cease and desist immediately or there would be consequences, and so, much to my amazement, that was all it took. One “no” head shake from J. and the bully backed down and never bothered me again!

Over time, I learned how to stand up to bullies myself, but that first experience with J. was significant in learning that often times less is more. J. could have come over and pounded that kid, but he knew he didn’t need to. No need to escalate things unless you have to. I think we’re forgetting that wisdom in our world today. It seems like things are escalating unnecessarily all around us, when we could be standing up for our positions with a much calmer “no.” There’s bullies all around us. Bullies in traffic. Bullies on social media. Bullies at work. Bullies everywhere, but as Christians we can stand up to them without lowering ourselves to their sort of mindless, directionless anger. As Christians we’re here to be the voice of calm and peace and reason, and we can often times deescalate a situation with a simple “no” head shake or responding to aggression with forgiving love. Thank you for reading my 11th blog.

Mark Inglis

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