Friday, September 07, 2012

Another Perspective on the Anti-Bullying Campaigns


 Clint and I took Amanda out shopping per request this past weekend. While we were in a store, a man near me accused me of trying to injure his child when it was his child who knocked the toy off. I had reached for something on a shelf at the same time a child knocked a toy off of a hanging display. When the toy crashed on my foot, I looked down into the frightened little boy's wide eyes, smiled, and said "It's OK, sweetie."

I let it go the first time the father said something hateful. I figured the man didn't understand what happened or was having a bad day and was taking it out on me. Then, he became louder and nastier and moved down the aisle closer to where I was standing as if he was trying to intimidate me. I walked to him and said "You do not get to treat me like this without me saying something about it." As soon as I started to speak, he turned around and acted like he could not hear me. Politely, I told him his son was the one who knocked the toy off, and that it was unintentional. I did not ask for the child to contribute because I didn't want the boy to be subject to the man's temper. The man kept pretending to ignore me. I had said my peace and turned to walk away.

The minute I turned my back, the man lunged my way and started hurling accusations and insults with a pointed finger and spittle flying. I challenged his behavior again. He turned away and pretended to ignore me while I was speaking. Again, I turned my back and started to walk away. Again, he lunged at me and started cussing and accusing me this time of picking something up off the shelf and throwing it at his child. When I turned back to him, he played his same game of turning to face the other way as I told him I would not stand there and let him publicly accuse me in front of two dozen people of trying to harm a child. We went through the same scenario one more time until I told him "I will challenge that statement every time you utter it." The man walked to the front to pay.

At that moment, Clint, who had been parking our truck, walked to the aisle I was on and asked me if the man he heard yelling and cussing when he came in was speaking to me. I told him yes and while continuing to look for my son some jeans, told him the story. As I was talking, I heard Clint ask in slowly in a deep voice "What gives you the right to yell and cuss at my wife?" I turned and looked behind me and realized I was talking to myself because Clint had left me to confront my attacker!

When I drew close enough to hear, the story the man was telling was even more outlandish. Clint told him  that if he knew anything about me he'd know better than to accuse me of hurting anyone, especially a child. The man laid into Clint and then made more accusations about me. Clint told him he had better mind his mouth and behavior or leave. The man made haste out of the store with his wife and son following him. He threw his merchandise in the middle of the floor. It was at that point that I realized the boy who was with him was not the boy who knocked the toy off the shelf! The child that followed him out the door had been three feet away from me at the time it happened! The man wasn't concerned for his child, but was looking to pick a fight.

The clerk thanked Clint repeatedly. She apologized to me for not intervening. She said when she heard him yelling "F- You!" to me, she was headed back, but at the same time, she saw Clint headed that way. She, a petite senior citizen, felt a man could handle him better than she could. As I tried to explain what happened, she interrupted and said she knew I did not instigate the attack because Clint's and my conduct in her store was always exemplary. She then told me to cherish my husband because he is a "REAL MAN." All of the women readily agreed with her.

While she was talking, other customers surrounded us and thanked Clint for running him out. An old vet rocked back on his heels and just laughed about the man running out of the store. We found out he had been loudly verbally abusing his wife up and down the aisles in the store. Then he attacked another customer with verbal insults. With his behavior condoned by their silence, he chose another female If Clint and I had not stood up to him, would he have continued on to verbally attack another person? I am not shocked by the man's behavior as much as I am of the many people who strongly disapproved, but let it continue.

I support the anti-bullying campaigns in the schools and feel they can do a lot of good.  However, I ask parents, "Why do you quietly slip away from someone who is being nasty rather than confront their bad behavior, but expect young children to show the bravery you won't?"

Proverbs 22:10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out and quarreling and abuse will cease.

Proverbs 25:26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.