The reason for this blog, is to share some insight I recently came across whilst reading a novel. It really got me thinking…
Firstly there is a difference between being bullied and being taunted, although both are just as reprehensible to me.
To Bully means, “use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.
To Taunt means, “to provoke or challenge (someone) with insulting remarks
This exercpt is from one of Jeffery Archers books, who is a brilliant writer, The Prodigal Daughter. In brief, it tells a story of a Polish man that was forced to go to America to start a new life. An inspiring rags to riches story with so much more. From nothing this man Abel Rosnovski built himself an empire worth millions. His daughter was his sole heir. This brilliant but shy young girl was taken care of by a very proper English governess who plays a major role in the upbringing of Floretyna.
Being rich Floretyna was sent to the best American school, however being Polish, with a name as challenging to pronounce as hers, made her stick out. This particular taunting incident starts off like this (Exercpts been taken out of the book).
Every Monday the Boys Latin School joined the girls to be tutored in French. As the class began to be introduced to the language by singing songs, Floretyna more out of boredom then bravado, started holding a conversation in French with her teddy bear FDR. The boy next to her leaned across and told her to stop showing off. She innocently tried to explain herself but instead of listening to her he proceeded to call her a know it all and then grabbed her beloved teddy bear, ripping off its arm and pouring ink all over it! At the age of 6 she was understandably distraught and began to cry. The teacher then marched the boy to the headmasters office. In the teachers absence, a fair haired girl leaned over and hissed, “it serves you right you stupid Pollack.” The class giggled and began to chant, ‘stupid Polack, stupid Polack.’ Floretyna clung to her bear and prayed for the return of her teacher.
When her governess picked her up she realized there was something wrong and with some coaxing got the whole story from Floretyna. When the father came home, he was livid to hear the news and his first reaction was to remove his beloved daughter from the school however the governess had a very strong but different opinion. She blamed him for what Floretyna experienced saying, ” it’s what you haven’t done. You should have told your daughter some time ago of the reality of being Polish and how to deal with problems that might arise because of her background. You should have explained the Americans deep-seated mistrust of the Poles”. She then went on to tell him, “if on the first occasion the child encounters some problem you choose to run away from it, how can I hope to teach her to cope with the real world”? She then advised, so eloquently, on how he should spend 30 mins with her every morning teaching her Polish history and why the Poles are a great nation who gave the Germans a run for their money despite knowing they didn’t stand a chance.
The next bit is my favorite. Floretyna became empowered and waited for the next opportunity for Edward Winchester to pick on her. But it never came, he had moved on. “Not everyone in the class, however, had forgotten, and one girl in particular, a fat, rather dull classmate, took special pleasure in whispering the words ‘Stupid Polack’ whenever Floretyna came within her hearing. Floretyna did not retaliate, but waited for some weeks until the girl came bottom of the history test while Floretyna was top. The girl whispered loud enough for all to hear, ‘At least I’m not a Polack.’ Edward Winchester frowned, but some of the class giggled. Floretyna waited for total silence before she responded. ‘True. You’re not a Polack; you’re a third generation American, with a history that goes back less than a hundred years. Mine can be traced for a thousand, which is why you are bottom in history and I am at the top.’ No one in the class ever called her a stupid Polack again!”
Love that! Her bravery was commendable. The insight I gained on reading this got me to a few conclusions. Of course these are only my opinions. Often a bully or someone being mean, can often be dealing with their own insecurities and feel better taking it out on someone they feel are worse off them themselves. That we as human beings have always been plagued by ‘bullies’ no matter the generation, age, background and social classes. That the way to empower ourselves and our children is to give them the knowledge of who they are and what they are worth. And that others opinions of ourselves don’t really matter, it’s what we feel about ourselves that does. I completely respect that it is easier said than done, but we all have to start somewhere.
The Prodigal daughter is a follow on from Jeffery Archers incredible book, Kane and Abel.