I can’t imagine what life is like for the millions of people who live in Ukraine.
As I write this, the once beautiful seaport city of Mariupol has fallen to Russia. And Russia plans to execute the 260 Ukrainian soldiers captured there. We should not let that happen.
The U.S. and European countries have made it clear to Putin that they’ll only go so far in helping Ukraine because they’re all afraid of what Putin might do to them.
But shouldn’t we be standing up to bullies in a way that stops the bullying?
Bullies learn to control through fear and threats at a very young age. It’s estimated that one of every five students gets bullied at school. It is most prevalent at ages 11 to 13 where facts indicate nearly 90% of students get bullied. But it starts around age five and escalates from there. It’s also the most prevalent among boys; the percentage of girls who get bullied is much lower. Although when it comes to cyber bullying, teenage girls are quite vicious.
We learn early on that standing up to bullies takes courage and has risks.
The National Education Association says that at least 160,000 students refuse to go to school each day for fear of being bullied. 10% of the student drop out rate is due to bullying. 86% of students say that being picked on or bullied leads them to think about violence. And 75% of school shootings are directly linked to bullying.
Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional, mean, and repetitive. It is the manifestation of the worst kind of power grab. Where does all this bullying come from? Are parents teaching children that being a bully is OK? Is society in general teaching that it’s OK? The only way it will stop is if people are willing to consistently take united efforts to stop it. Doing the right thing is often not easy.
History shows us just how much devastation can be done by bullies. China’s Wu Zetian (624-750 AD) was known as a ruthless sadistic murderess. England’s Mary Tudor (Queen from 1553 to 1558) was so vile she had the nickname of “Bloody Mary”, having had more than 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in just 5 years.
So bullies are not only men. Bullying is a common characteristic of those who seek and wield power regardless of gender.
Andrew Jackson is by far the biggest bully to occupy the White House. In 1838 he passed the Indian Removal Act which led to the deaths of 4,000 and the relocation of 46,000 native Americans. He then took their land. He led brutal campaigns and “ethnic cleansing” of native Americans which today would be considered war crimes.
Without doubt the most horrific bully of modern times was Adolf Hitler. For twelve years he wreaked havoc on the world.
He is responsible for the deaths of more than 6 million people of Jewish faith, more than 19.3 million Europeans who were sent to German work camps, and 28.7 million soldiers. It is an unprecedented number of fatalities and is the deadliest conflict in modern history.
Historians call Hitler the “embodiment of modern political evil.”
407,316 American servicemen died in WWII. Another 671,278 were wounded. My father served in the Army in WWII; my uncle in the Air Force. My uncle is among those who died and is buried in the American Cemetery in Italy where he was killed when his plane was shot down.
WWII seems to be the last time America was unified in the desire to stop a powerful bully. And even then, it wasn’t until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor that we rallied. It’s the last time Americans from all walks of life participated in military combat. Presidents Kennedy and George H.W. Bush, both from wealthy, political families, served heroically in WWII.
But recent decades have been led by presidents who sent Americans to war in Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Bosnia without first-hand knowledge of the experience of military combat, having avoided it for themselves.
Now with Putin massacring the citizens of Ukraine, we send weapons and aid, but the world has pretty much let Ukraine know they are on their own to stop Putin. Had NATO not been so afraid of Putin and let Ukraine join when it wanted to, this war might have been prevented.
Putin is the bully of the hour and he knows how to wield his power through both fear and fearlessness.
I hope we all take a moment from the cookouts, picnics, beach trips, and fun this Memorial Day to remember the honor, sacrifice, and selflessness of all who have served in military conflicts. Show respect for our veterans who have given so much in service to our country.
In the entire history of the United States there are only 15 years we haven’t been at war somewhere. Only 15 years of peace out of 245 years! It’s a pretty dismal record, and one that shows what happens when the bullies win.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”Edmund Burke
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