Cruelty is NOT Cool!

My grandson has Down Syndrome.  Recently my son-in-law posted this video on his Facebook page:

Take a minute to look at it and then come back.

Were you shocked?  Did it hurt your soul?  I was struck by two things:  people either did nothing or got aggressive with the abuser, saying things like “Shame on you!” and “Get out of here!  Your are an ass!”

The people who said nothing, probably because they were stunned, accidentally sent a message:  This behavior is acceptable.  They probably left feeling pretty crummy about themselves and the world.

The people who did take action, got pretty riled up.  One woman, a teacher, who stood up to the abuse was so shaken after the account she could hardly speak.  “I’m normally not like this, “ she said.

Coping with Difficult People Without Becoming One of them

My question is: Can people respond to cruelty without becoming aggressive?  Can we take action that makes the world a better place without getting ourselves all riled up?  Can we learn to cope with difficult people without becoming one of them?

My answer is Yes, Yes, Yes!

Cruelty is Not Cool campaign

I am starting a worldwide campaign to deal with all forms of cruelty.  Racism, sexism, insults to people’s bodies or their mental capacity– I want to teach people of all ages how to stand up to all forms of bullying and cruelty in a way that brings joy.

Did she just say stand up to bullying with joy?

Yes she did.

Imagine, if you will, people standing in line at a market.  The cashier has Downs.  Someone starts saying mean things, “Hurry up, you dummy!  You shouldn’t be allowed to have a job. I don’t want to be in the Retard Line.”

Idea #1:

One person makes a loud clap and says, “Enough!” then smiles.  He does it again.  “If you agree, help me!” he says.  Soon everyone is smiling, making a loud clap together, and saying “Enough!”  It is a Flash Mob of saying a kind and firm “No.”

Why smile?  It will keep your brain functioning at top speed and will show you are not being aggressive.  You are saying a kind and firm NO!  *Read William Ury’s book, The Power of a Positive No , if you want an excellent explanation of how to say a positive no and still maintain your relationships.

When the cruelty stops, you smile and say, “Thanks” to the person who was being abusive.  Then you turn to the cashier, smile, and say, “I’m thrilled you are working here.”

Idea #2:  

Fake a coughing attack.  Let people know you are not choking so they don’t try to save you and break your ribs in the process, but MAKE A LOT OF NOISE.

Why Be Kind and Firm? Why not smack down those bad guy bullies?

For two reasons:

#1 We have all been bullied and we have all been mean to others.  We are all innocent and we are all guilty. Fixing those “bad guy bullies” out there, instead of looking at the deeper causes of cruelty, perpetuates instead of solving the problem.

#2 Cruelty is pain leaking out.  If you add more pain to the situation, you do not reduce the cruelty.  Maybe at that moment it stops, but shaming people for their behavior just makes them more frightened and hurt more.  They will leak their cruelty somewhere else.

Are you with me?  Does this sound good?  Want to take action?

How do we get the ‘Cruelty is Not Cool’ campaign out in the world?

I have lots of ideas.  If you are interested in joining the campaign, reply to this email and I will put you on a special list.  Together we will generate and share ideas from all over the world.  It will be really, really cool.

Kindness Takes Courage.  It feels better too.

What do you think?