March 21, 2011
We were a small community, vibrant and strong, though not without hardships. Times were tough and our benefactors were cutting back. And while we sometimes competed against each another, for the most part we got along. Many of us had friends on other teams.
Then a bully came along. For some reason, he disliked us on principle. He made fun of the stuff we made, kicking over our sand castles and spitting on our pictures.
In the beginning, we all tried to make peace with the bully. That failed. Then we merely tried to appease him. But that failed, too.
The bully acted with impunity, because he knew we wouldn’t strike back. He knew our guardians told us to ignore him, that discretion was critical. As his attacks grew evermore personal, this became harder and harder to do. Yet, we never fought back. We became weak.
The bully became a tyrant. He belittled our capabilities and integrity as if he were the only one possessing any of either. From the top of his mountain he took to calling us names, hurtful and extreme. Few were spared his wrath.
Some of us took to viewing his acts of carnage with fearful glee, not unlike staring at a car wreck. When it was over we rushed away to our forts, glad it hadn’t been us but full of shame. We tried to remember what it was like before the bully, but we could not.
Oh, the bully had his pets. But those he nurtured only felt pitiful for being spared. They knew it was only a matter of time before the bully turned on them. In the end some of us tried becoming his allies, giving him information he could use against others in our community. Thus we became accomplices.
And then one day the bully was gone, disappearing like dirty snow in spring. Maybe his protectors had had enough. Or perhaps the difficult times that had befallen us had gotten to him as well. We only knew the bully’s reign over our tiny community was over.
We rejoiced. But at the same time we were a little sad. From the bully, we’d learned how to point fingers and criticize one another. Often from behind hiding places. Our sense of community was damaged.
Shrugging, we continued making things for our benefactors, not really sure if it would ever go back to way it was before the bully. For there were other bullies lurking beyond the fence and we knew it.