The use of manipulation, coercion, intimidation, and/or physical force, defines the tactics of a bully’s game, whether it is in the home, schoolyard, workplace, sports arena, corporations, countries, or in our relationships. It is a mean game wherever it is played; the same sport, different arenas. And who has not at one time or another been a player? There are winners and losers in any game, but today I salute some of the winners.
My friend's granddaughter, an introspective, pretty girl of thirteen, is in junior high school. She started the year without a best friend, without a clique to hang with. Five mean girls reminded her daily that she was a loser: nasty remarks about her appearance, sniping with cruel taunts, making a game of “Who has to sit next to (holding one’s nose) Emma?” Or making sure she heard, and understood, that she was not invited to the birthday party of a classmate.
Emma sat herself down and asked herself some hard questions: what is wrong with me? what can I do to change my life so that I want get up in the morning and go to school? She analyzed her personality and determined she was too quiet; she was pretty enough but invisible. So, with resolution and lots of courage, she jumped out of the mindset of a victim: she auditioned for a school play(good golly, Miss Emma, that took a lot of moxie!), but did not get the part; she joined the ASB, (and Grandma, this will look good on my resume when I am old enough to apply for a job), making school posters and meeting lots of new people, who liked Emma for her wit, for her team spirit and for herself. Now she has friends vying to come to her birthday party. Score one for Emma, zero for the mean girls.
I am not fan of sports in general, but whenever Frank Deford is on NPR, I listen. I happened to catch his commentary comparing the behavior of the NFL pro players to those at the the Australian Open. I quote from NPR’s “sweetness and light: The Score On Sports With Frank Deford”:
“…an American named Tim Smyczek somehow took the magnificent Rafael Nadal right to the fifth-set limit at a grand slam, the Australian Open. This was Smyczek's moment of a lifetime, but when Nadal served at a crucial point, someone in the crowd screamed, and the serve went awry. What did the 112th player in the world do? He signaled to the umpire that his opponent, the great Nadal, should get help, another chance, another first serve. Nadal promptly won the do-over with a terrific serve, and soon enough, the match, and Smyczek's one hope for glory was gone. But, you see, he simply thought he had to be fair, or victory wouldn't be worth the candle.” Frank Deford (Read more: The Tennis Court Offers A Good Lesson For The NFL)
I may not be a 12th fan, but I am a 112th fan. His candle burns brightly in the day and night.
Two of the most powerful and rich men, giants in the computing world, Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft, had a sensational fall out when Paul Allen revealed in his book that Bill Gates was a bully, among other things. But according to Geekwire, Paul Allen added an epilogue in newest version of Idea Man: "I believe we will be friends again," he writes. "The history we share is more powerful than whatever comes between us.”
Bill Gates made a published statement in the Wall Street Journal that he valued Paul Allen’s friendship and contribution to the world of computers; Paul Allen writes that after his mother’s death, Bill Gates got in touch with him, offered condolences and wished to restore their friendship.Whatever happened between these two Titans, always in the public eye and media, will be open to speculation. But for their public personae, they are more than the sum of money; they exhibit a wealth of probity, unlike Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.
Pastor Mark Driscoll built a network of over five-hundred churches, founded in 1966, utilizing the Internet and his dynamic personality. But he ruled through intimidation, fear and bullying. He used shunning to control others; he was criticized for plagiarism and unscrupulous publishing tactics, and the misuse of global funds. In January, 2015, Mars Hill Church disbanded. Mark Driscoll was dismissed from Mars Hill Church by the board for “ungodly and disqualifying behavior.” Timothy Keller, the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, told the New York Times, “…the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships — which he himself has confessed repeatedly — was obvious to many from the earliest days, and he has definitely now disillusioned quite a lot of people.” Even after repeated misgivings stated by those close to him, Pastor Driscoll would not alter his behavior. He lost it all and his ministry is in shambles. The consequences of being a bully.
There are no gold medals, trophies, laurels, bonuses, to be given out to Emma, Tim Smyczek, Paul Allen, Bill Gates or the multitude of quiet heroes who go unrecognized, for exemplifying the best qualities within us. Just a shout-out to the winners.