Did you watch the video? It’s a short PSA on bullying and how we need to stand up when we see it. We’ll stand up for our burgers, why not children? I don’t believe people didn’t intervene because they didn’t care. I believe they didn’t intervene, because they felt powerless and this video demonstrates something interesting about how we feel power and authority in our public life.
We understand the transactional nature of business. We know that when we pay money for something, that we have a right to receive the promised product. We have power through our money. Money and transaction provides a relationship with a company that comes with rights. We have a right to demand that our expectations be met, because we paid our hard-earned cash for it. People stood up for their right to have a non-bullied burger.
What happens to our power and authority when money isn’t involved? This video shows how powerless we can feel in human relationships, particularly when a relationship isn’t already defined. The people who allowed the bullying to continue saw it, knew it was uncomfortable and wrong, and yet let it go unchallenged. We don’t seem to have that same authority to stand up for what is right in our world without already being in relationship, even if that relationship is only based on the thin connection of money and transaction.
Clearly we know this is wrong.
So, what do we really need to do to live in a world where we all feel the authority to stop abuse when we see it happening? I don’t think the people sitting there felt that they shouldn’t say something. They weren’t happy or unconcerned. But they still didn’t stand up and say something. Why?
What if it’s a lack of a sense of belonging that would tell us, “This is my world. These are my people, whether or not I know them. I am responsible for the care of all.”
Money and transaction give us authority to speak up for ourselves and others. But, what if our authority to interact came not from our wallets, but simply from being a person in a community. Would our world be more free of abuse? Would we call for justice and good care of each other more often? How would these scenarios be different if the people witnessing the bullying felt that this is their community that they are a full member of and it is their responsibility to care for, instead of feeling like a separate outsider? I’m guessing that there would have been a lot more intervention had people felt that they had the power and authority to use their voice in protection of another person, and not just their burger.