But we’ve come a long way from the days of the big dumb schoolyard tough who would back down, if someone actually punched him back.
Now we have
- “cyberbullying” (getting way too common, and deadly)
- and sexual harrassment/bullying… (Filner, Wiener, Spitzer, etc, ad nauseam)
- and IRS bullying… (Tea Party, anyone?)
- and lawsuit bullying… (suing Buckyballs, and Standard and Poor’s)
- and voter intimidation (Black Panthers), and…
I’ve been thinking about bullying quite a lot, because my granddaughter’s current favorite Pixar film is A Bug’s Life.
In this entomological retelling of The Magnificent Seven, a group of hired “tough bugs” (actually rejects from a flea circus) are supposed to fight back on behalf of ant citizens who are sick of the protection racket they’ve been forced into by the local grasshopper thugs.
The grasshopper Boss explains why his brutes have to keep flying back to Ant Island to collect the grain offering, when they don’t really need the food: one ant made the mistake of standing up to him. “Those ‘puny little ants’ outnumber us 100 to one. And if they ever figure that out, there goes our way of life.”
And of course, you can guess the rest (although with the genius of Pixar’s storytelling, getting there is more than half the fun).
You can probably choose your own current battlefront, and fill in the blanks, but for me, when I think about this scenario, mine goes something like this:
“Surely there are millions of us who hate Obamacare…if ALL of us refuse to comply with its mandates, how can the government (or the IRS?) penalize us all?”
Anyway, that’s one of my thoughts on bullying. Safety in numbers. Rise up.
What if we really do enter an Orwellian every-man-for-himself time, where people have been so completely stripped of trust that it is no longer possible to band together against the bullies of leadership?
About that, I have two things to say. Or perhaps three. First, let me tell you one of my favorite stories from the life of Elisha the prophet. It’s found in 2 Kings 6 and you can read the whole thing here. (It’s a great story.)
The king of Syria was at war with Israel. (Wow, some things never change…) But every time his advisers told him to invade the Jewish homeland at a certain point, Israeli forces were there to block the attack. The Syrian king was furious, thinking that one of his advisers must be in league with the Jews. But no–they told him it was Elisha the prophet who kept revealing the king’s secrets
Instead of being terrified by the fact that a man hundreds of miles away had instant access to his state secrets…instead of trembling in fear before Elisha’s God…
The king ordered, “Go, find out where he is, so I can send some men to capture him.” The king was told, “He is in Dothan.” So he sent horses and chariots there, along with a good-sized army. They arrived during the night and surrounded the city.
He said to Elisha, “Oh no, my master! What will we do?” He replied, “Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he can see.” The Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:13-17 NET)
Whether we know it or not, God’s side always outnumbers the enemy. Indeed, for the believer, in whom God’s Spirit takes up residence:
“He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 ESV)
All of which leads me back to my recent post on persecution. Jesus’ words are a continual source of strength to me, in the face of overwhelming adversity:
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
We may not always be able to outnumber, outwit or outmaneuver the bullies of this world. There may come a time when it seems that the forces of evil are even winning. If I’m reading my Bible correctly, that time WILL come.
When and if it does, those stirring underdog stories which I’ve always loved will no longer be helpful. All these “little guy wins” movies that I let my Lucy watch will seem to mock us. In that day, it may be wiser to focus on the lives of the martyrs–ancient and modern–so as not to lose faith or lose heart.
We can face the bullies. We may not always win the battle. But we’ve won the war already.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)