Social Justice and Cyber Bullying

Many would have seen the sickening video of the year 10 boy who was being bullied by a year 7 boy recently. It made me sick just watching it. The original bully could have been seriously hurt (at least his ankle was, but if he’d landed on his head as it had appeared, he could have been paralysed or killed). News stations have spent a lot of time looking at it, and have commented on social media sites and the way that people have responded, i.e. by raising the year 10 victim (though I’m pretty sure both are victims now) up as a hero.
I came across one such facebook event this morning. The purpose of the event was to show support to victims of bullying. Wonderful. Bullying victims, and victims of all types of abuse and harassment, should have a voice and have support and feel like they’re not alone. But there is a danger in setting up these sorts of open forums. The overwhelming theme of the posts on the event are along the lines of “that kid got what he deserved,” “[the victim] should not have been punished,” and generally supportive of the violence that was used to end the 3-year cycle of bullying he had received (reflecting now, he must have faced it from many different people, unless the school is K-12).
I was quite horrified and disgusted at the way they supported the violent way he dealt with it. I wrote a response (feel free to check my facebook page and comment on it, though I’m reconsidering how long I’ll be a member of facebook). As a result of my post, I actually received a fair bit of abuse (name-calling, “think before you share your ignorant opinions”, i.e. keep your mouth closed) to those who bothered to comment. A few responded with reasoned and thoughtful replies (“have you ever been bullied?”, “put yourself in his shoes”), which I found helpful. And thus I got my first taste of cyber-bullying. It was really quite upsetting.
Yesterday’s Lunchtime bible talk was about Romans 2:1-16, in which Paul comments on self-righteous people who think that because they have the law they are excused from God’s judgment. It was an argument against those who want justice for the world against “those people over there.” But in Romans 2:1, we find they are just as guilty (“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things”).
So many people on that event are all for ending bullying and empowering victims to stand up for themselves. Yet many of them who identified with him, in that they were bullied and the bullying ended when they eventually got violent (e.g. breaking noses, hitting back), reared up and kicked back at me when I suggested violence was not the answer. I felt it was my turn to stand up for myself and point out that “I’m really getting a taste of what it’s like to be bullied.”
I can’t honestly say that I’ve never been a part of bullying, by standing by and doing nothing as someone else teased or pushed someone else (I generally avoided and rolled my eyes at the fights that drew the crowds). And I’m not convinced that the way I addressed the issue myself was the right way. But it’s just another reminder of how fallen this world is and how even in wanting justice, no one really does because they don’t want to admit that we all deserve it. I know I need to deal with the consequences of my sin. I’m thankful that “on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ,” I’ve already been justified through the blood of Christ himself.
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