For one reason or another, lately I've come across a lot of media concern/hype about bullying. I started to write an essay on the subject for Amazines, but got carried away (I tend to do that), and the essay morphed into a novel about what could happen when a hapless victim decides to retaliate against those who tormented him. Last week I shipped-off the finished (but unedited) product to the agency. I do not have a TITLE yet, but submitted three working titles for consideration. Hopefully the novel, will hit the streets sometime next year. Meanwhile, here is the gist of it... |
The theme of the story within these pages is revenge resulting from a young man being unmercifully bullied from his earliest years. It began with one parent who was brutal, and another who quietly stood by and let the torment happen. The plot line is a description of classic cause-and-effect; that is, oppression-and-retribution—kismet if you will. For the purposes of this account, bullying is defined as aggressive, intimidating action taken by a stronger person against one who is weaker; and for the sake of the definition, such deeds may be physical, mental, or spiritual. What I mean by the third category pertains to religious zealots who say one must convert to a particular belief system—or else!
According to the media and their political sycophants, so-called bullying has reached an epidemic level in American society, and some kind of government program is required to “fix” our prevailing behavioral problems. Oh, really? Here’s how I interpret what’s going on: The definition of what constitutes bullying as written in the preceding paragraph is still operational, but the details have become blurred. Exactly what specific deeds are or are not bullying have become rather subjective and cloudy, a definite plus for lawyers (more billable hours) and government officials (expanding bureaucracy). Pardon me for being cynical, but since when has a government program based on ambiguous or contrived facts—what I call tribal knowledge—ever improved anything? It’s all in definition of the actual problem, right? Let’s have a look. According to 2010 government figures, 2.7 million students are the victims of bullying, and 2.1 million are bullies. The study also claimed one of seven students (kindergarten through grade twelve) is either a bully or being bullied. Bullying was defined to include relentless teasing, name-calling, rumor mongering (word-of-mouth and electronic communications) up to severe beatings. An unwanted byproduct is that some victims have retaliated with counteractions as drastic as revenge shootings. The cause of the effect; that is mistreatment, occurs both at school and home according to the study. Further, within the public school system nationwide the following figures were reported by teachers and students: • 56% witnessed bullying • 15% regularly skip class because of bullying • 71% report bullying is on-going, not isolated incidents Some reported effects upon the victims is that they have 1) trouble making friends, 2) lack of success at school, and 3) problem behaviors leading to early smoking, drug use, and alcohol abuse.
I’m not sure what has happened in our society that has made the trend increase, but I suspect two primary constituents; namely, 1) the declining civility among our citizens, and 2) a changing (or revised) bullying standard to fit into the paradigm of our collective present mindset. Of course, I am taking the government data at face value and using personal experience as a baseline, which admittedly comes from my unique environment. It’s just that I do not recall bullying being a major problem during my formative years. Oh, there were always those who picked on others, and rare individuals who were just plain mean, but they were the exception rather than the rule. We did rag each other constantly, but it was always good natured, and we expected to get it back. For instance, there was a neighbor boy named Englehart to whom we always referred as Englefart. We all had nicknames that referred to some kind of odd family name or unattractive physical attribute. Buzzard, which became just plain Buzz in teenage years, was given to one with a large nose. Lunk was a kid that was a bit slow on the uptake. Other names I recall were Ears, Citric Acid, Oil Can, Gut, Garbage, Sack, Tear Gas, Tanker, and Cow. I suspect with today’s politically correct crowd we would be accused of bullying each other.
That’s not to make light or poo-poo what’s occurring in our schools, but let’s look at some cause-and-effect realities that have (perhaps) contributed to the problem, to wit: Words like “thank you”, “please”, and “your welcome” are rarely used by the masses these days. I detest the latter being replaced with “no problem”. I once saw a lady thank a young man for opening a door for her. His reply? “Whatever.” Home training and good manners are becoming more-and-more uncommon. Winning and money seems to be the trump card for everything, and it doesn’t seem to matter how one achieves either goal. My observation is there are a lot more savages out there than in the so-called good-old-days. In addition, we’ve taught our petulant young people they are the center of the universe, and anything unpleasant that becomes them is not their fault. Our first response is to find someone to bring suit against. With that in mind, I suspect that the standard for judging bullies has also changed; the bar has been redefined; that is, lowered. Our collective mindset seems to be that everyone’s a victim; ergo, there must be some bully out there who is responsible. Like the old Salem witch trials everyone’s in play not just the old “standard” Alpha-male schoolyard bully. Today’s bullies include corporation officers, parents, teachers, and the clergy; and anyone anywhere that makes an unflattering remark even if that remark is based in reality.
One of the main characters in this story has a legitimate claim of life long mistreatment. The question to ask ourselves is: What happens when such a person decides he’s had enough and plans to retaliate; a person that is smart, cunning, and resourceful? What happens when society decides NOT to defend or protect such an individual? Doesn’t society have itself to blame for creating the ensuing monster?
Read on, but before you get out the torches and pitchforks remember: actions do have consequences…
A battle of wits occurs when disgraced detective C. W. “Slab” Nestleroad attempts to solve an emerging crime wave in the small town of Lattys Grove, Ohio. Once a brilliant investigator, Nestleroad believes all signs point to a nerdy, unimposing, unassuming hearse driver, Marshall “Gert” Herbstreet.
Herbstreet is one of those quiet, meek souls who fade into the background. To most he is practically invisible. How could a string of felonies including murder be perpetuated by such an unlikely suspect? That’s what Nestleroad intends to find out, but proving it may be another manner.
On the other hand, Herbstreet has been a victim of bullying from his earliest years both at home and in primary school, and he seethes with quiet anger swearing some day to get even. He also knows of Nestleroad’s past reputation for hitting the bottle a rumored cause-and-effect for faulty judgment, which led to his dismissal as chief of police. Is Herbstreet merely having a little fun at Nestleroad’s expense or is he really a diabolical monster in choir boy disguise?
Copyright by Gene Myers, author of AFTER HOURS: ADVENTURES OF AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSMAN (2009), Strategic Publishing Group, New York, NY – a hilarious account of the author’s overseas travels; and SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE (2010), PublishAmerica, Fredericksburg, MD - a mildly sinister, but amusing work of fiction. Both are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and available in Amazon Kindle and Nook formats.
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