radical is the new sensible . . .

Schoolyard Bullies on Capitol Hill

An Essay of the Man From the North
by Rivera Sun

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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 kindergarteners. They twist truth to get snacks from first graders. They strong-arm suspicious kids to get ahold 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 kindergartener, 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.

 

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Read more from The Man From The North in Rise and Resist: Essays on Love, Courage, Resistance, Politics, and Democracy from The Dandelion Insurrection

The Man From The North is a fictional writer in Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection and the sequel, The Roots of Resistance. 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 have been collected in a book of essays Rise and Resist which can be  read here

Author/Activist Rivera Sun has written twelve inspirational and hope-filled books that celebrate our human ability to create change for the better. Rivera’s writing is syndicated nationally and her articles have appeared in over one hundred journals. She speaks and teaches strategic nonviolent civil resistance inter-nationally. She was co-host for five years of several popular radio shows and can be reached through her website:  www.riverasun.com

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