Halloween has come and gone, Thanksgiving approaches, followed by our modern, mutant version of Christmas. Turkey's come to mind, and that makes me ponder human bullying of the weaker members of society and the misery it brings about.
I realized the similarity between turkeys and humans at the beginning of my journalism career. I was barely twenty, without any experience, the newbie on a small, local magazine in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, privy to all the fluff assignments. My assignment that day was to interview a turkey farmer and return with an article and a cover photo for the November issue.
Lancaster County is heavily agricultural--lots of turkeys nearby, so within a half hour I was knee deep, surrounded by a cacophonous mob of poultry. The first thing I noticed was that they all had the top half of their beaks missing. "Why," I asked?
The reply: "If we don't do that, they'll pick each other to death."
It seems turkeys instinctively sense the weak members of the flock and gang up on them, picking until they're dead, not unlike a grade school bully, a teenage tormentor, child abusers, wife abusers, and heads of rogue governments who have cowed our own government into submission. Why do they bully? Because they can.
How have we come to this place? When did we decide that ganging up and whacking them alongside the head was socially unacceptable? By the time we reach sixth grade we should know that you can't appease a bully by being nice, or giving them presents and money. Bullies fear two things: losing their power and public ridicule. On a grade school level, a couple of victims, with some creative thinking, should be able to come up with a solution. The same fear of those two things runs through all levels of our society, including world government.
It's time we revisited the lesson of "The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow." He knew about fear of ridicule. Or remember the lesson of Teddy Roosevelt: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." The fear of losing power.
The national level is where I'm concerned the most. China bullies us with threats to our currency, so we send them loads of foreign aid. We have to borrow the money from them to send it back and then pay interest on it! Afghanistan announces that if we get into a disagreement with Pakistan they will side with our enemy, so we send them more money and overlook their drug trade. We're rebuilding Iraq in the hopes that someday they will sell us oil. We won the war, stupid. It's our oil.
You can't buy friendship. Where is our common sense?