Our society surprises me with it’s hypocrisy. Social media is flooded with posts and messages that demands justice for Nhaveen and Zulfarhan Osman and the whole nation is enraged. Everyone is now discussing bullying, demanding stern actions to be taken. I even watched a video that told parents to poison their kids if they are unable to control them from becoming scums of the society. This dilemma is not something new, it has existed for ages. Human sadism is not a new crisis, it is just more evident because of exposure. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone bullying. I think this conversation is important. But at the same time, I am afraid all this rage and anger will turn cold if we don’t acknowledge our collective hypocrisy.
Bullies are not created in isolation, they are raised by people. Parents and the society. We model our prejudices to children, creating an impression that being different is a sin. We instill values in children that either makes them bullies or spectators of bullying. This requires some personal reflection on our part, to think about the opinions that we project to kids. This ranges from issues relating to sexism, colorism, sizesm, LGBTQ and even religion. We, the society have paid too much attention in modelling certain lifestyle, creating fear that being different is bad instead of teaching children empathy. A lot of people are well behaved only because of societal expectations and fear of being ostracized, not because they are truly empathetic to another person’s circumstances.
Fundamentally, this problem persist because it has an audience, a public that actively or passively supports it. How many times have you seen someone being called names (fat, ugly, gay, black) and kept silent? How many of you have called out subtle bullying. How many parents or adults in the society do the same? Little things like this add up, and takes only one bully to cross a line and raise hell like this.
The society has contributed to this mess. How many of us are truly accepting of gays/transsexual; we alienate them. We label them as not normal. We teach our kids what masculinity/feminity looks like. We give no space for the spectrum that exist within the fabric of the society. Empathy is considered weak. We look at the word feminism as a bad word.
So, how can we blame the boys alone? Honestly, are we shocked that bullying happens or just that it got out of hand? That is a critical question for us to answer, instead of beig indenial about our own realities.
Nhaveen is not the first, nor will he be the last until we take personal responsibility in ensuring that we are empathetic. Until individuals call out subtle bullying so that growing children see that being different is okay and we don’t accept bullying or mean behaviours. Take personal responsibility in teaching people around you to respect someone’s space in exercising their choices. Creating an empathetic society requires small acts of love and kindness, and that is an individual responsibility.