Monday, January 4, 2016

compassion for bullies

I spoke with my mother today and she told me this story, which I had never heard before.

When she was around 9 years old she was bullied by an older kid who would hit her and really hurt her. She grew up in what was at the a time a working class rough neighborhood in New York City, on 100th street and Amsterdam. She would have to pass this kid's building most days on her way to see her friends and relatives. He would start out nice and say "Hi, How are you doing?" and she would wonder if he might not hit her that particular day, but of course he would. She said that he was sadistic and that the sight of him made her blood run cold. She, like me, did not have emotional support or resources growing up, god bless her, so it was just a sad and awful story.

One day, when my mother was around 19, there was a knock on the door and she opened and it was a homeless man. It took her a second to realize that the homeless guy was the kid who used to bully her. He asked if her step father Bill was there. He said that he needed a drink and that the bartender had said that he could not give him a drink before noon because he could lose his license. He said that the bartender told him to go see Bill H________, that Bill would give him a drink. And, yes Bill gave him the whisky.

(backstory: This story came up because my mother was telling me about a book she was reading, on compassion, by the Dalai Lama's interpreter. She mentioned that he talks about when a child is "acting out" it is because of a need and that you want to get the need met rather than punish the child. I agreed and told her that I practiced empathetic parenting (in theory anyway, or as best as i can) which is a similar school of thought from Echo parenting). I talked about how I am glad that people and institutions are starting to understand and implement this concept, although slowly. I said that often the bully is an abused kid....)

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