We’ve all heard the term, “That’s the pot calling the kettle black.” It’s one of those sayings that’s been around for a long time. It originated in a time when pots and kettles were usually made from cast iron which turned black over the wood burning stoves of the day.
Of course, in the present time, most pots are shiny stainless steel that is rarely, if ever, black, and kettles are something most persons younger than me are unfamiliar with. But the phrase lives on, which leads me to the observation that those phrases that capture truth tend to last.
That seems to be the nature of truth. It has this way of never wearing out. Long after the references of such phrases have faded into the mists of time, the truth behind them continues to march on. Perhaps it’s time to update the references. Let’s see… how about, “That’s the lawyer calling the banker greedy.” Or maybe “That’s the politician calling the used car salesman a liar.” Either one works. But perhaps we should try this one on for size: “That’s the adult calling the child a bully.”
At this juncture, you may be wondering what I’m talking about. How did he go from pots and kettles to adults and children? And how the heck did bullies get involved?
It’s really very simple. We live in a world of hypocrisy. It’s a world in which adults preach at children about the evils of bullying, only to turn around and bully others for all the world to see. Articles and blogs are filled with rants about how terrible it is that our kids are perpetrating bullying of all kinds: physical, cyber, verbal, etc. I’ve seen segments on news shows and read articles in magazines. It’s everywhere. But seldom do I see even one of these authors so much as mention the rampant adult bullying that goes on every second of every minute of every day around the world.
Of course, we adults don’t call it bullying. We call it entertainment or politics or business or even parenting. We call it many things, but the vast majority of us do it on a regular basis. Of course, some of us don’t actually participate actively in much of it. No, we simply participate through not standing against it.
In some cases, we even pay to watch particularly clever bullies practice their craft. Of course, we don’t call it bullying. We call it comedy. “It’s just a joke. Come on. It’s no big deal.”
Oh really? Why don’t you try asking Manti Teo if the deluge of verbal abuse heaped on him was “no big deal?” Or perhaps you should ask Britney Spears, or Charlie Sheen. “Oh, but their public figures. If you can’t handle the heat…”
And there it is. We justify it and laugh our merry laugh while the comedian bully pours more salt into the wound. What a funny, funny joke.
Of course, it’s important that the professional bully know his audience well to ensure that the “right people” are the victims. Wouldn’t want to offend the customers. That wouldn’t be funny at all.
Then again, sometimes we all play the comedy card directly. “Did you see the picture I shared on facebook of Manti Teo’s girlfriend in the shower? Ha ha ha. It was just an empty shower stall! Ha ha ha.” Keep pouring on that salt.
In other cases, we bully in the name of business. “I’ll show THEM whose boss.” That’s rarely overtly stated, but we all know when it is being done to us and, sometimes, are even aware of when we are doing it to others.
Or perhaps it’s done in the name of patriotism. “Those people…” Name your group. Those Muslims, illegals, atheists, gays, transvestites, liberals, conservatives, commies, etc… you get the idea. It’s okay to bully them. After all, they are them.
And then there are the hard core professional bullies: Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher come to mind. In the name of politics, this class of bully sharks will go after anyone that disagrees with them in the most vile and venomous ways. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt as long as they can show everyone how “right” they are.
It’s so bad, that the better you are at bullying the “right people”, the more money you can make while doing it. And everyone applauds you! “That Steve Jobs was a GENIUS.” We are so impressed with his success in amassing a fortune that we actually hail him for being a colossal jerk. I don’t mean we hail him in spite of being a jerk. I mean because his jerky, bullying behavior helped him get rich.
And so, we stand and applaud, or perhaps we actually join in. “Hey, it worked for Jobs!”
But all the while, the little eyes are watching. It matters not how many sermons we preach about the evils of bullying or how much we praise good behavior. They see the truth. They see our actions. They see who we idolize. They see that the television is filled with out of control, over the top jerks that become rich and famous simply for being jerks. They aren’t stupid. They see the “way of the world.”
Bullying is all about lack of respect for others. It’s about putting self first and others be damned. It is diametrically opposed to the example of Yeshua, both in His words and in his actions. And yet, even churches, or perhaps I should say especially churches, are guilty of it.
Funny how so many Christians conveniently forget one of the main themes Yeshua made most clear: “DO NOT JUDGE”. When churches, or church folk, treat others harshly, they become the most ironic bullies of all, because they not only violate a direct command from Yeshua, but they emulate the very group they plotted to kill him: pharisees.
If we want to end bullying, we have to start with ourselves.
We have to commit to treating others with kindness, even when they are behaving badly. That takes patience.
We have to commit to standing up against the rampant bullying going on all around us. That takes courage.
We have to “be light and salt” and “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us“. That takes humility.
In fact, what it really takes is His strength indwelling us.
Only one human has ever been perfect, but that does not excuse us our imperfection, for He offers to work in and through us to perfect us. Of course, that can only happen if we choose to allow it to happen.
Either way, we may as well save our breath on the sermons to the “young ‘uns.” They can’t hear us. The shouts of our actions drown out the whispers of our words.
They watch. They see. They do.