Grace behind The Bully

By: Janice del Rosario-Cadlum

Bullying is an opportunity for grace… for both the Bully and the Bullied.

How this can be possible  is really a genuine willingness for hope and change:

Danny Pearl was an American Journalist for Wall Street Journal’s Atlanta bureau who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002. His widow, Mariane Van Neyenhoff had their son, Adam Daniel Pearl in Paris, France on May 28, 2002, almost four months after Pearl’s death.

She wrote the memoir :  A Mighty Heart : the Brave  Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl about this tragedy which was adapted into a film starring Angelina Jolie playing herself, a French freelance journalist and reporter/ columnist. The message of that movie was Religious and Racial Tolerance. She was Buddhist, he was Jewish.

How was she able to tell a beautiful story in the midst of such pain ?

She was quoted as saying : “Determination is my revenge. (Otherwise – ed.), this will be a (continuous ) cycle paying violence with violence even if it is legitimate violence”.

Danny in the midst of shackles  raised the V-sign for peace communicating to his wife on the video released to her that even in the midst of fear, anxiety and the prospect of death, there is a way  to go beyond the physical aspects of your predicament and rise up to a spiritual one.

Shortly after Pearl’s death, his parents founded the Daniel Pearl Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to promote cross-cultural/ inter-racial understanding through journalism, music, and dialogue. And in its Honorary Board are the likes of :CNN’s chief international correspondent and anchor, Christiane Amanpour, Nightline’s Ted Koppel and President Bill Clinton.

They host  programs like their 2010 Prayer Breakfast – Interfaith Council of South Orange County talks on “A World in Need of Healing – Creating a Path for Interfaith Dialogue”,  “Carving A Dialogue Between Muslims and Jews, Global network of concerts for “Harmony for Humanity” and  “The Ideology Of Terror And The Spirit Of Our Children”.

For the sake of our children…

How fearful do our own children get when they experience their bullies? Any less terrorizing than a cell ? or a terrorist? Maybe not to the child. A bully is a bully is a bully… whether it be a psychological taunt that traumatizes or becomes irreparable, or actual physical damage to physical person or property.

Trying to pin down what traumatizing event qualifies as a bullying incident is like trying to single out a mugger in a crowd. Key here is what has been altered within the person.

What are  the tell- tale signs ? Evidence that a child is being bullied could be a slack in grades, oversensitivity/ crying for  even the slightest, insignificant reason ;  withdrawn behavior…

Being a Target

I don’t know what it is with my kids that made them a target for bullies. But looking back–  not wanting to  be an expert on the topic —  each of my kids had similar experiences and chose to deal with it in the same way.

My daughter was tall for her age, always being mistaken for a high school girl. Maybe it was this that threatened her bullies. They  were from higher grades and high school girls  who would throw her bag or hide her things and shout loudly in her ear. Just by the means by which they provoked her already made me guess how these girls may have also been treated once in their young lives. I worked so far away so it was difficult  for me to be there for her. I just had to pray a lot.

When being harassed in the hallways my daughter would just try to  smile and greet them when they would pass by, praying the bible passage : ‘Do to others what you would have them do unto you” (-Matthew 7:12:12) would be her armor. Once when they asked  her if she was rich she responded : “no, but i’m rich in faith”. Whether that pierced through to soften their heart or became a source of added ire for them, we soon would find out.

At dismissal, one of the girls was left by her school bus and was crying profusely. My daughter decided to take this opportunity to reach out and give her a ride home. This shocked my daughter’s bully who opened up and confessed  that she felt envy for my daughter whom she said had many genuine friends unlike her. Then she started sharing that her dad never had time for her.

This turning point bore fruit one day when my daughter brought home a long letter explaining why her former bully acted the way she did. She said she missed her dad a lot and apologized for taking her anger out on her. She ended her letter with “I see Jesus in you”.

Though it was really painful for me to watch from afar. i just had to trust the Lord He knew what He was doing with her life.

I also had to trust that after comforting her and giving her my two cents worth about how I felt she should deal with her problem, (and of course informing the proper authorities )  my daughter would be able to rise above this challenge and learn to face her fear, bite the bullet and know that she was doing something good  for both herself and for others.

Martyrdom? Or just making a conscious choice to be life-giving?

“When we improve in life, it usually comes after an experience of hardship”.

Well, in the end, in the words of Ms. Congeniality…” isn’t it true that all we really want is…World Peace…?”

Next  Week : Dealing with Bullies : Martyrdom or Maturity ? How to make a fail-safe Battle Plan


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