Bullies and Fear: Shaming and Ubuntu

A friend shared this about UBUNTU and the question: why does the Torah advocate shunning and exile as the punishments for slander?  Would this be better?

It made me think of the reign of bullies we are currently suffering under and the amazing paradox that the most sadistic victimizers view themselves as victims.  I recently finished the new biography of Hitler and the parallels between him and the Columbine killers he inspired were clear.  All viewed themselves as victims of injustice and populated the world with enemies who were just personifications of their own powerlessness.

And yet in order to deal with this sense of powerless victimhood they made a beeline for the most vulnerable and hurt them and killed them.

And yet after doing that they killed themselves. In Hitler’s case he also killed his friends Joseph and Magda and their children, his girlfriend (then wife), Eva,  and his dog, Blondi.

It makes me think that the two most painful things we experience at the hands of another human being are violation and neglect.   Those are the two weapons humans have to hurt each other — either to ignore the other person and let him die, let him go to his own fate (and in this sea the lone an drowns) or to push past his boundaries and make him serve our needs without caring about his.  These two kinds of victimization create two kinds of counter-attack in their victims.  The bully who is afraid of us ignoring him, will hurt us until we pay attention to him.  The bully who is afraid of our violation will build a fortress to demonstrate that he doesn’t need us.

And yet we all need each other.

Rocky seas, my friends, and visibility is, unfortunately, not what it could be. I think we should just remember that bullies are afraid too, and that our own fear can activate our inner bully, and that this inner bully is not real — but just a terrified child.  We don’t want to shame him.  We want him to stop being so afraid.



4 thoughts on “Bullies and Fear: Shaming and Ubuntu

  1. There’s a lot of shaming going on right now, too. But I wonder if shame just feeds into that fear of violation or neglect. I have friends who think that experiences of shame can lead to real learning, but I’ve never been quite so sure. I certainly don’t feel that way when others blatantly try to shame me. But that’s different from finding reasons to feel shame from experiences, which require interaction in the first place.

  2. I’d say a form of bullying comes directly from making people need each other. Think of old kings marching people off their land at sword point to work the kings lands to feed his army – those people needed each other to get their own food after that, but it wasn’t good. There’s plenty of bullies who leverage people by the fact those people need other people and can’t just walk away/can’t just say no.

  3. Also is there any scientific observation of Ubuntu? I’m skeptical (I mean, two days when you’re in a subsistence culture?), but at the same time if it is the case I’d be interested empiric observation of it and results down the road.

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