Although it’s almost over, let’s not forget that October is National Bullying Prevention Month. With our eyes on the youth of first-world societies and their inability to act like civilized human beings, too often tormenting one another to death, we forget where they learn it from.
Civility is a taught behavior. Unfortunately, many adults seem to think being grown is the same thing as acting right. They forget that hate crimes are not youthful indiscretions but evidence of an ailing society where some give themselves permission to prey on others based on minutia. Rarely is prey selected based on anything actually dangerous (Zombies, Vampires, Brain Slugs) or chosen by the individual (Mad scientists, Militias). Rather the prey are selected based on the basic Us mentality.
There’s nothing especially wrong with relating to people who are similar to you; the problem is when you choose to distance yourself from those who do not meet this qualification. Then, to take it a step further, the danger arises when you demonize the others—sometimes even with enough exhaustive rationalization and hypothetical fill-in-the-blank self-teaching to convince yourself or others that they’re existence is a danger to your Us.
Only a few apocalyptic movies depict the backlash that might happen when survivors are chosen at random and panic starts to drive their behaviors. Carriers (2009), directed by Àlex and David Pastor, was the first time I really saw the raw, human aspect of people not only banding together in groups of Us but also fully acknowledging the lack of society, infrastructure, and need to humanize anyone other than their own.
There was a scene in the movie where the group or survivors saw an Asian man who had been murdered and strung up by some other White survivors with a sign saying, “They did this.” They, being the Asians. Because for some reason Asians would be out to get Us, You, or Yours… To most people it makes no sense. Nevertheless, to enough people who are scared and wondering where their God is, it’s something they can force to make sense.
Some people, in survival situations, will revert to playground and prison tactics for proving dominance—the two are sadly very similar. Generally, we see the wrongness of both situations. We regard preying on the weak or different to be one of the most vile offences, especially when escape is not an option.
After September 11th the incidences of hate crimes against Arab Americans—or those suspected of being Arab Americans—skyrocketed.Ordinary people went out of their way to victimize strangers viewed as one of Them. Ordinary people, who had no information about who the They who had committed the terrorism were or who the They being victimized by at their hands were.
Bullying is a seed that we can let either grow unchecked or weed out on sight. Today, children in schools might not be your problem, and prisoners flexing on one another might not be your problem, and gang violence in cities might not be your problem – remember when the apocalypse comes, these will probably be the best armed people outside of the armed forces. However, one day, if we allow the bullying seed to thrive, you might find yourself being called one of Them.