As October is Anti-bullying Month, we should honor those people for whom kindness is natural. We should 1. learn from their example, and 2. try to root out our own personality defects. We should keep from being bullies.
I write this as a person is trying to be better, because I need to be better.
My own form of bullying comes from a bad sense of humor. Too often, I say the first thing that comes to mind without further thought. It is mean, judgmental and hurtful. I do harm, and after realize the need for apology. I say sorry, but the damage has been done.
1. Certain groups around town have shown a clear example of anti-bullying.
The most recent Hermiston School Board meeting showed terrific civility. As we see national news of clashes between school boards and members of the public, note the hostility, lack of reason and uncontrolled rage. Then contrast that with what occurred at the last school board meeting.
The atmosphere of the meeting was light and relaxed, friendly even. When board members laughed, it was not from cruel jokes, but from pleasantness. Likewise, when guests spoke, they also brought good vibes to the room.
Even when people disagreed with the board, and spoke for the need of change, everyone remained respectful.
Now, I am not saying all meetings need to be conducted with all participants singing “Kumbaya,” but it is nice to see grown people interacting in a spirit of unity and mutual thoughtfulness.
The Hermiston School Board meeting was not the only occasion where people act well, far above the most egregious examples in our larger society. Probably, they should all be named, but I will only mention one more for something learned at its meeting.
In the past week, a new friend invited me to a Hermiston Kiwanis Club meeting. It was also a pleasant affair. This meeting featured Byron Smith, Hermiston city manager, who delivered a presentation on developments in town. The club welcomed Smith and Mark Morgan, assistant city manager, who was also present.
In this friendly environment, club members were able to hear about actions that affected their lives. They also got to ask questions and deliver feedback. It was downright productive.
I bring the Hermiston Kiwanis meeting up not just for another example of civility in our community, but for something else I noticed in their meeting. It was this thing that gives us a method for maintaining decent, un-bullying behavior.
2. The way to not be bullies, as described by a Kiwanis sign, is surprisingly simple. The sign, which was on display at the front of the meeting room for all to see, was a recommendation to be thoughtful before speaking.
It listed suggestions, derived from the advice of Socrates. Before one speaks, one should ask oneself three questions. First, is one’s statement true? Second, is one’s statement good? Third, is one’s statement useful? If the answer to all these questions is affirmative, only then does a person speak.
This triple filter test is the answer to bullying behavior. It is an enlightened way of thinking, which is already employed by our best people.
So, thank you, Hermiston School Board meeting participants, Hermiston Kiwanis Club meeting attendees and all those other people who are acting well as they build better communities. Throughout this month, when we discuss answers to bullying behavior, we should all learn from your examples.