Schoolyard Bullies on Capitol Hill

Nonviolence

Image by Toban B. via Flickr

The Essays of The Man From the North by Rivera Sun
Writer, Dandelion Salad
February 5, 2017

Politicians have devolved into nothing more than schoolyard bullies stealing lunch money from small children, harassing the defenseless, and expecting to receive rewards and gold stars of approval.

They plunder the public coffers, destroying shared wealth that we, the People, have worked arduously to build. With social justice movements, one after another, we have labored to defend these systems that protect and support our mothers, children, elders, families, the differently-abled, the down-on-their-luck, the hurt and abused. We have demonstrated our compassion for one another through insisting that our politicians institute these social programs. We have stood up for one another by defending them from the greedy plundering of bullies.

But politicians and their corporate, oligarchic cronies pervert media to their purposes and deceive the unsuspecting. They lie through their teeth to take lollipops from kindergartners. They twist truth to get snacks from first graders. They strong-arm suspicious kids to get a hold of their goodies. They flat-out attack their peers to steal public lands, sweet deals of contracts and the sustenance of subsidies.

If they don’t get what they want, they throw tantrums. If they sense defiance, they beat it back into submission. If they get caught in the act, they turn on false charm to sway the authorities into letting them off with a wrist slap. If that doesn’t work, they threaten to send in their big daddies of lawsuits, leverage, and clout.

These are the people running our country. We all know them – or at least, we’ve all encountered the grade school forerunners of this archetype. We’ve been slammed up against lockers, had gum stuck in our hair, been taunted and mocked, and tripped up in the halls of life.

We must deal with this problem of bullies occupying Capitol Hill. Bullies do not vanish by avoiding them … they simply go pick on someone else, grow bigger, and ultimately come back to haunt us from corporate offices and political seats. Wherever there is power, the abuse of power can exist. And inside each abuser is a bully that must be rousted.

It takes courage to stand up to bullies. They are strong and powerful. We feel weak and small. But, we are many and they are few … and when a whole schoolyard unites against tyranny and injustice, no bully can withstand our opposition.

We cannot use violence – it would turn us into the very monster we are seeking to transform. We must use noncooperation. We must refuse to be allies to bullies, pawns in his game, or part of his group. We must refuse to consent or comply to his demands. Neither fear nor ambition should sway us to give him what he wants to take through force. We must use collective protest: whenever and wherever we see a bully shaking down a first grader or snatching something from a kindergartner, we must collectively raise our voices and shout: Stop! No more! All eyes should turn on the bully. All voices must denounce the behavior.

We must courageously intervene, throwing our bodies over the defenseless, taking blows meant for another, and staring down hatred and violence. We must use de-escalation, distraction, and all the skills that can thwart a bully in his attempt to abuse others.

Together, we must lift up our shared values of kindness, compassion, and respect. We must treat one another as we wish to be treated. We must assert that these are the rules of our playground. We must insist that all who share our schoolyard and community play by the common rules of human decency. We must be willing to transform ourselves from isolated victims into collective movements for change.

And we must be willing to allow bullies to transform back into ordinary human beings. They are not monsters. They are humans. We must stand, as Dr. King said, against the injustice, yet not against the person. This may be the hardest task for us all. But at the end of the day, our schoolyard is part of our home, our community, and our nation. All of us – bullies, victims, scapegoats, bystanders, and defenders – will continue to live and work here. So, we must challenge and change the dynamics at play. We must end the bullying of others in our halls, seats, and offices of power. We must do so nonviolently with equal measures of courage and compassion. And we must strive to help everyone emerge from the gauntlet of change with our humanity, dignity, and heads lifted high.


The Man From the North is a fictional writer in Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection. The novel takes place in the near future, in “a time that looms around the corner of today”, when a rising police state controlled by the corporate-political elite have plunged the nation into the grip of a hidden dictatorship. In spite of severe surveillance and repression, the Man From the North’s banned articles circulate through the American populace, reporting on resistance and fomenting nonviolent revolution. This article is one of a series written by The Man From the North, which are not included in the novel, but can be read here.

Author/Actress Rivera Sun is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other books, the cohost of Love (and Revolution) Radio and the Programs Coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence. http://www.riverasun.com

from the archives:

President Trump: The Final Assault on Cooperation and the Environment by Graham Peebles

Emergence: Revolution Within and Without

Chris Hedges: Learn to Work With People That Think Differently From Us + Inaugurate the Resistance!

We Are Facing Dangers On All Sides

Dorothy Day: Our Problems Stem From Our Acceptance of This Filthy, Rotten System by Richard Sahn

Not One Penny More to the Rich!

What Would Happen If We All Refused To Go Quietly To The Slaughterhouse?

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7 thoughts on “Schoolyard Bullies on Capitol Hill

  1. Sensible stuff; that places everything in a more manageable context, by reminding us of a common perspective that is proportionate; that we can all readily identify with. I’d say it is fair to suggest that the most (self-)evident characteristic of our present era, is immaturity.

    Humanity seems to be in its spiritual childhood; our species displays all the behaviors and precociousness we associate with youthful insecurity, fearfulness, over-confidence and fantastic naivety all at the same time, coupled with occasional flashes of brilliant insight, gratuitous selfishness, total dependence, gullibility, voracious appetite, profoundly illuminating dreams, passionate devotion…I could go on, just think of what children are like, how we (even as adults) relate to things & to each other, to animals and what our individual growing up was like; and then consider honestly how the world actually behaves ~ en masse.

    Am I wrong? It strikes me the parallels are truly remarkable. If that is anywhere close to being apposite, then the cosmic child that we may all be, might anticipate a destiny that is both profound, but also fraught with many momentous challenges along the way….that is, if there is a genuine probability of a celestially enlightening future; experienced through a more developed state of consciousness that values life & understands how truth may manifest in as yet inconceivably diverse and mysterious ways ~ that our kind has a chance to endure, even evolve….& that we can survive the present calamitous estate, to become authentically human.

      • Thanks Lo, 45 responses when I looked just now!

        It resonates quite well with a short piece Colin Tudge contributed to Resurgence four years ago, about the same time I took his flagship agroecology short course at Schumacher College (in Devon) http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article4011-why-genes-are-not-selfish-and-people-are-nice.html

        I think the heart of the matter is whether (or how) we approach reality from the inside-out or vice versa. Both ways work, but whichever approach we take (ideally, probably both) requires a strong sense of moral responsibility & pure intention; because it doesn’t mean anything if we simply conform to predetermined expectations in a vain attempt to please others. There has to be a genuine need to know the truth about ourselves…and a commitment to keep learning.

        I always find people very interesting, and have really spent my life studying other human beings. The wisest and happiest souls I have noticed, are those who have found the courage & the capacity to generate and emerge from their own ‘spiritual’ chrysalis, as it were; not those who feel they must do the bidding of others, cannot make decisions or discern what is right for themselves; by themselves. It takes a certain quality of perseverance to really be oneself ~ and humility.

        There’s a strong TED talk about this idea, addressing male sexism, that I listened to today and shared on my Facebook timeline, so probably worth adding it here as well ~ since it is an invitation to young men especially, a “who says?” moment, to ‘think for themselves…’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCA6EF3y23k

        • Some very sensible suggestions in that post by Ian Welsh; the only word of caution I would proffer, is that it is quite a presumptive step to talk about all human existence in terms of “us” or “we” and “everyone.”

          I don’t know everyone, and am never likely to have a sound idea about more than the few hundred humans with whom I have interacted over time. So when we seek to identify generic moral formulas, it is exceedingly difficult to make them fit all cases ~ & places.

          Personally, I do not think there is any way out of this dilemma, except through ‘enlightened’ (genuinely liberal) education; particularly types of educational/pedagogical praxis/learning & self-discovery that engage with creative ideas and methods to empower women and girls ~ reminding the male identifying spectrum, they are only a Yang to their complement’s Yin. Once we get this simple notion firmly embedded, it will be much easier to accommodate gender ambiguity and social/genetic difference that, in turn can help ‘us’ to facilitate real moral development.

      • !…! thanks Rocket, we’ll have to defer to a future conversation to do ‘Justice’ to that…what a huge topic, with so many multiple meanings, allusions….(all I can say here is) what a world of difference exists between restraint and restriction ~ perhaps it is that very distinction President DJT is so naively determined to grapple with.

        Methinks, he needs wiser counsel.

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