Like Lambs to the Slaughter
Posted on 12, November 2009
I continually look at society to see where and how we need to change to make this a better place. Just as often I look at myself. This past weekend, I witnessed a very disturbing event that some of you may question why it bothered me so much??? Well, it goes like this. My wife and I are part of a condominium association, and we traveled to where our condo is for the annual meeting. This year the meeting was well attended, more so than in previous years, because of the activity that had occurred throughout the year on the part of the manager of the property management company. One of the issues is that this “manager” is also the developer, lives on site, and keeps the place looking nice. He has quite a large sense of entitlement and an apparent ego to go with it; however, it was his ethics that began to be called into question. Often with a sense of entitlement comes the belief that we are worth more than others and therefore deserve more than others. This can lead to the slippery slope that we see so many slide down, similar to the Bernie Madoffs of the world.
The reputation of this manager is that he bullies, intimidates, shames and humiliates others to get his way. He also has been known to manipulate facts and information to his benefit. At this meeting, he began by commanding, “This is my meeting,” when it was truly not his meeting, it is the meeting of the owner/members. Here began the onslaught of bullying, manipulation, probable lying, and self-serving obtuseness in a five hour rant that promoted his arrogance and ignorance. There were some that spoke up, but almost as quickly as they spoke up, they became silent again, almost fearful of retaliation, if not from him, then from others supporting him.
So you may be thinking that Dr. E… has a beef with this guy… Yes I do, but I have a bigger beef with how people responded to him, including myself. That is what I want to address. Here is my concern. In the world we live in, we are crying for change. We live in a world where there are egregious abuses of power from our families to our schools, to our government, to our board rooms. But when it comes down to it, too many times we don’t step up when we have the chance.
Bullying is a problem that is gripping not just our children but all of us as a collective society. What I saw at this meeting was a bully, and I saw people from many walks of life taking it and some also feeding it. Mind you, these are successful people, lawyers, doctors, business owners, mothers, fathers…and no one stood up to say, “Enough”. People knew that what he was saying was not true, but they did not challenge him. What’s worse is that after this manager bullied his way through the meeting, he then called for the vote to re-elect himself as manager, and people let it happen and then re-elected him as manager. Even when I went to the board to ask them to stop the vote, they did not. After all, this was not his meeting. It was the meeting of the condominium association.
Why did no one speak up, and why does this happen time and again? I believe it is fear. Fear of being wrong, fear of being attacked, fear that we may lose something, fear of what others may think of us, fear of the consequences if the bully “wins”. Even at the core of every bully is fear, which is why they behave as they do. Fear does have a positive side, in that its job is to protect us from harm, but in many circumstances it is out of balance. What do we all stand to lose when we let the bully “win”? Everything!
From Victim to Victor
I believe that this action of not confronting only reinforces this behavior in all of us. In the bully it reinforces the idea that he/she can continue to act as he/she does. In his “victims” it reinforces the belief that they are powerless. The truth is that no one can take our power away unless we give it to them. I believe that we can be victimized by others, but I believe even more that we often remain victims by choice. This is just one example of what goes on around us everyday and it has been happening for millennia, which is why people feel so helpless to change it. I believe that there is a further potential for us to seek a higher standard and more empowered outcome.
People often want to excuse bullying behavior when the “bully” is good at what they do in their skill set. To me, it is not a matter of how good a job a person does when they are not in integrity and they do not treat others with respect. There is no excuse for this behavior, and we, as individuals and a society should not have to endure the entitlement of others, that’s what got us into this mess.
No matter how old we get, we still feel like little kids inside. Well, so do the bullies. The bully’s behavior is no more than a temper tantrum to gain control of others. People bully others because they have something to hide: insecurity, inadequacy, lies, fears, failures… and too many times we do not see through them. When we don’t challenge these issues, we are lead like lambs to the slaughter. Is that the bully’s fault? No. We choose not to see and/or we choose not to act. I chose not to act more assertively that day, and I wish to not make that choice again. What will you choose?
Stay tuned for Part 2: The Lambs Are Silent No More