“I’m going to pick a fight.” – William Wallace, Braveheart
I learned early and well that friends can hurt you worse than anyone else. I remember at least four separate occasions that involved me getting bullied and, in the process, watching my friends betray me to side with the bully or to simply abandon me. On three of the four occasions, I had a brother or a friend who, at least, didn’t abandon me. On the fourth, I felt the humiliation of having someone feel sorry for me.
Recently, my 9-year-old son tried to defend a friend who was being bullied at a Cub Scout day camp. The bully then turned on my son and shoved him down. Thankfully, it didn’t go any further than that, but it got me to thinking.
Some things are worth fighting for.
I was sharing these tales with my best friend, Steve, the other day. Having both dabbled in martial arts over the years, I told Steve I was seriously considering enrolling my kids and me in Gracie (Brazilian) Jiu-Jitsu classes. This is not a new idea for me, just a new level of passion for the idea (The reason for that particular style is that it is the most effective and most humane for self-defense).
As I said, I learned, through those childhood experiences, to view people that were not close friends with suspicion. I have struggled to overcome that tendency as an adult (though it still serves me well in some situations). I have wondered, though, how I might look at others had I not had those experiences as a child. While talking to Steve, it occurred to me that it is not an overstatement to say that the entire trajectory of my childhood, and perhaps my life, would be different. Without going into too much self-psychoanalysis, let me just say that I wouldn’t mind having a chance to go back in time and confront a couple of those bullies, knowing what I know now.
I’m genuinely curious what you think about this. Have your kids (or you) dealt with anything similar? If so, how have you and they handled it? I don’t want to seem like I’m encouraging violence. On the contrary, my reason for wanting to train my children in self-defense is so that they can protect themselves and, if necessary, others who are bullied – if at all possible without injuring anyone. You may disagree, but in my experience the best way to stop a bully is to stand up to him.
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7
If there is a group of people picking on you, the best thing is to stand up to and defeat the ringleader. Take out the main bully, and the others won’t want to mess with you. I’m not suggesting violence as a means of solving problems. There are, however, certain bullies who will not stop until they are defeated. This is evident even on grand scales. After all, what were Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein, if not overgrown bullies? Bullies thrive on power. Weakness feeds their power. Do you remember a young boy named David who took on a bully named Goliath? We have turned this into a cute Sunday School story, but it is anything but. David was prepared for Goliath with the Jiu-Jitsu of his day – he had killed lions and bears to protect his sheep. And, when he went up against Goliath, he felt not an ounce of fear for three reasons:
- He was trained.
- He was right.
- God was with him.
This is what I’m talking about. Sometimes talking doesn’t get the job done. There are things worth fighting for, and sometimes you may just need to pick a fight.