Comnmentary: We don't need to be afraid of other people

May 18, 2013 

I devote a lot of my time to bullying elimination and prevention. The reason is because Humanism provides an excellent framework for coping with bullying and learning how to get them to leave you alone.

Humanism is a highly effective approach to problem solving. A good portion of the problems we deal with every day have to do with our interactions with other people. Not everyone is nice.

When we have prob-lems with others, the philosophy of Humanism encourages us to do three things:

• Figure out the real reasons why people are behaving badly;

• Think about other people, including jerks, compassionately; and

• Think about our response before we act so that we increase our chances of having a good outcome.

This combination of thinking and thinking and thinking before we decide how to deal with obnoxious people might seem excessive. Plus, why should we be compassionate with the jerks of the world? They haven't earned our compassion.

What people don't realize is that there is a reason why every major religion and philosophy throughout the entire history of humanity has taught and preached compassion.

Compassion is something you do for you. It doesn't really help the object of your compassion. In fact, it tends to make angry people even madder.

One of the main benefits of compassion when dealing with bullies and the main reason why Humanists spend so much time encouraging people towards compassion is because, compassion for others eliminates our fear of them.

Bullies bully because it works. By behaving aggressively, they gain control over other people and get their way.

Most of us are nice and like to avoid conflicts. Bullies use that to their advantage.

What Humanism and compassion does for victims of bullying is it helps us to humanize the bully.

Bullies aren't ogres. They are just other human beings. Small, pathetic, weak and insecure, just like the rest of us. They are behaving badly because they either can't help themselves or because they are unable to get their way any other way.

That's pretty sad when you think about it.

Humanism teaches us that we don't need to be afraid of other people. They are, after all, just like us.

Humans can be amazing and weirdly wonderful. We can also be amazingly insecure and fearful. I don't know anyone who is always at their best.

Even I've been known to behave badly fromtime to time. A littlecompassion goes a long way.

Having compassion doesn't mean you should allow someone to walk all over you. It only means that you don't need to be afraid of them.

Deal with the bullies in your life with confidence, courage and compassion.

Jennifer Hancock, Humanist life skills educator, has a book, "The Bully Vaccine," at

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