Thursday, October 18, 2012

The New Face of Bullying

As parents, many of us are well aware of bullying.  Bullying in our schools, on our sports teams, and online.  As adults, we are even familiar with workplace bullying.  Employers bully employees, employees bully each other.  

What is bullying?  "Bullying is intentional aggressive behavior. It can take the form of physical or verbal harassment."  Bullying is "unwanted, aggressive behavior . . [that] is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time."  "Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose."

One of the things that continues to shock and surprise us here at the Holistic Moms Network is the ongoing efforts to bully our 501(c)(3) non-profit community.  Yes, you heard me right.  Individuals, groups, activists, and others who want everyone else to share their soap box, to take their stand, to agree with their views, use whatever means that they can to intimidate even non-profit organizations into complying with their demands.  They flood social media, they hijack Facebook pages, they bombard Twitter accounts, and they insult, accuse, argue, and forcefully project their ideas, regardless of whether or not you agree until or unless you become their victim.

The Holistic Moms Network is build on a foundation of diversity and tolerance.  As an organization, we are not here to blame you, attack you, or make you feel guilty for the choices that you have made in your life's journey.  We provide a supportive community for parents to share and connect.  A place where you can learn and become aware, so that you can make informed choices.  Whatever your choice, it should be an educated one and one that works for your family.  Your family is not my family.  Your knowledge, resources, and personal values are not mine.  We hope for and advocate for choices that support natural health - health for individuals, for society, and for the planet.  But we are not going to bully anyone into taking a particular stand, nor do we appreciate those who insist on bullying our members and our community.

You may not like our community or our members for this reason.  You may dislike our meat-eaters if you are vegan, or our vegans if you are Paleo.  You might criticize how we birth, how we feed our families, or what type of healing modalities that we use, or don't use.  But at the Holistic Moms Network, we like to teach respect.  We believe that respect is a value that every generation needs to learn.  Are there many great causes out there to be taken up?  Of course.  Are there many single-issue groups that share your passion, whatever that may be.  But they are not Holistic Moms.  Those issues may or may not be part of holistic living and they are not, in and of themselves, our mission.  We are about creating support and community for parents who share an interest in holistic living.  And in supporting such a diverse and widespread community, we negotiate the very challenging road of tolerance - a place where bullying cannot survive.

Most importantly, the tactics of bullying do not create positive change.  They do not open people up to awareness-raising.  They shut people down.  They create fear and intimidation.  They put people on the defensive and generate feelings of negativity.  Even if your cause is noble, bullying will not further your mission.  It is compassion and understanding that create change.  As Buddha said "Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity." 

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