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COMMENTARY · 27th February 2013
Merv Ritchie
I sympathize with people who have been bullied, but the bulliers are not lone individuals as is the popular stereotypical portrayal; the bullies are groups. This pink shirt concept is not much different. It is a group of mostly well meaning people following along without really using their brains. Others will use this herd to intimidate and ostracize those who do not wear pink. It is all too common.

I have never followed the pack. I refuse to do what others demand or expect me to do. And all through grade school I experienced the attacks by those who did follow the pack. Many leaders of the group mentality were girls and equally many were boys, but all were bullies. If I didn’t play baseball, I was a weirdo and was taunted. If I didn’t join in and insult the others like they did, I was picked last for “sides” in some other game. When I, as a young boy who enjoyed music, went along with the grade 8 class school girls to a concert in the City’s central auditorium, I was again jeered and sneered, called queer.

Your, “lets everybody do this today” mentality is mental. You set up the perfect breeding ground for bullies.

My ex and her sister, two offspring from the Fort Victoria bigoted “our effluent smells like roses” crowd, set up a ‘Social Club’ in a small rural community on the North Shore of the Shuswap Lake. They used this club to manipulate others into bullying those who did not play by their rules. My daughter, at the time in grade two, had already learned from the best and was the youngest student to ever be suspended from her school after organizing another group of girls to torment her target.

It is no different for most clubs. We teach our sports teams to group together and share common goals and beliefs but usually this turns into aggressive hostile behaviour to others. The Churches generally preach kindness and compassion but watch what happens when an organization boldly exposes the Churches for their crimes against the Indian peoples. All members are co-opted into not just boycotting, but actively targeting others who dare support the organization. Circle the wagons and destroy anything and anyone who dares expose the group criminality. We see it with the Conservative mind-think today regarding the destruction of the environment. All those even considering the protection of land, water and air are labeled, targeted and bullied by those belonging to the conservative group. It is an us against them mentality.

We do not teach our people to be independent or to think critically. We teach our children to fit in, to join in, to appease and become chameleons, to change their appearance, opinions and points of view (if they actually even have one) to match those they are currently associating with.

Look at all the politicians and successful businessmen wearing the same style suits and ties. Look at all the matching hair styles. Look at all the women dressing sexy, attempting to mirror the latest style image, applying makeup like everyone else. Look at the way most people snub those who dress down, don’t shave or use makeup, drive old beat up vehicles and pick bottles for spare money. Most of us belong to large groups of bullies.

In 1994 or so I was sitting for lunch with a group of construction workers when the foreman began making racial slurs about Indians and Blacks, actually challenging everyone sitting there to defend the sorry useless lives of anyone who wasn’t white. No one, including me, told him to go fuck himself. I was embarrassed and I could tell at least one of the others were too, but we just sat there, while he went on and other co-workers laughed with him, supporting the behaviour. The club mentality behaviour. My daughter even called her circle of friends her club.

No I will not wear pink. I will be an individual. I will form independent original thoughts. I will think for myself and I will not join in your club. As one great independent thinker stated, I would not join any club that would have me. He was also quoted as stating the only thing a club is good for is to beat people over the head with it. And he was absolutely correct.

I will continue to fight and stand up for those who cannot defend themselves. Facebook demands you be a club member, "Like me, Like me, Like me." What a load of bullshit. This is the new world of the Social Media Club, much like the Celista Social Club, what bullies use to bully.

And that is what we all are doing. Face the facts. We join clubs because we cannot stand on our own. And we, against our own integrity and decent moral fortitude, sacrifice our independence to remain a club member and have fake friends.

No I will not wear Pink Today, in my own small independent way to show my support for those who are being bullied by these and other group movements.
Education is Key 2
Comment by Lynda Rocha on 3rd March 2013
Did the original story get modified. I don't find references to Rotary in this version? Did I miss something?

The reference to Rotary was in a comment, `Yes I join no clubs`.
Education is key
Comment by Lynda Rocha on 1st March 2013
I would suggest you educate yourself on service clubs particularly Rotary of which I have been a member for 20 plus years - and I am not a man by the way. If you did take the time to educate yourself before making particular comments you would know that Rotary is 1.2 million members worldwide in more than 34,000 clubs who's mandate almost from inception was to eradicate polio from the world and (as the advertisements say) we are this close to doing that. We embrace members regardless of professional and business classification, gender, age, religion, and ethnicity. Rotary works closely with the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with others. This past week one of our club members made a presentation about a trip she made to Ethiopia where she administered the Polio vaccine to over 200 children in one day. There is so much more but you can check out Rotary's site and learn more. Thanks for the opportunity to promote my club "Rotary".

I am well aware of the Rotary Club. In 1990 I sat with the President of Rotary International, from Sao Paulo Brazil, Paulo Costa in Vancouver. (He was on his way to meet with Gorbachev to discuss an international “green Tax” on pollution. His idea was the money raised could be used to police poachers, in his concern was policing the forests of Brazil). My Father was the President of the Vancouver Club at the time. Every club has the same four rules but I have witnessed most members do not follow them. Out local Club, though full of great people have members who are never challenged for their bigotry and bully ways.

Only the heads of companies can be members, as I recall from my time around hundreds of members decades ago, and many of these members have significant financial and political clout. Yes the club does great work; I even donated a solar panel for a fund raising effort back then.

Locally I bought from the Rotary Auction, but the snubbery and bully behaviour of some members is remarkable. Your assumption, I should learn about the club, was just that, an assumption. I have been involved with Rotary my entire life.

Until we as club members get some back bone and rout out the jerks and bullies, regardless of their influence and standing, we will all remain bullied. Bullies become our leaders; look at the success of Gordon Campbell. Everyone knew he was a bully but no one had the guts to stand up to him. We live in a sad state of affairs. Pink shirts make people feel good for a day - oh yay! Our children witness our lack of backbone, our inability to speak up when someone speaks down. Our children become bullies and participate with the bully leaders, because we show them how to do it. How to let things go, how to succeed.

Yes - Education is the key, and this writing is about educating with truth about bully behaviours and why it prospers.

pink shirt day
Comment by marym on 1st March 2013
Hello Merv, i joined in anti-bullying awareness day in greenville. I received a pink shirt from the town, all the designs on the shirt from the school district children...on the front: hand prints and the quote: Lend a hand to stop bulling...the back, "Be a Friend not a bully" " Awareness" it certainly was with speaches regarding changes, involvement, singing, dancing-I am so proud to be part of the celebrations, and whenever possible i will wear the tshirt given to me from this proud group.
Work place bullying.
Comment by Hard Core on 28th February 2013
I work at Rio Tinto Alcan,and i think it's discusting how people treat each other in there.This is so wrong, but people go along with it.Why would that be?Then these people go home and try and set a example for there kids.I think this place needs a undercover boss,to sort out all of this out.We all see it in there and do nothing about it.Somthing to think about.
You make my point on my behalf
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 27th February 2013
Beginning with the name calling. And yes, at times I was picked last, not just dodge ball. And at times, other schools where I played the "join the crowd" games I was one of the favorites to pick. I too went to Boy Cubs and Scouts, Baptist Bible camps, etc. No where did I not experience bully behaviour. From the camp counsellors to other camp councillors, to the kids against other kids. Nurses in psych wards can treat other nurses the worst. Watch the way teachers treat other teachers that don't fit in and comply with makeup and dress. It is where we learn this behavior. School.

I quit school in grade 11 after finally giving up on the accepted, in my opinion, juvenille behavior. I went to night school where people actually wanted to learn stuff.

But then I discovered in almost every work environment, industrial, mines, construction sites and in downtown Vancouver offices, almost all co-workers continued where they left off in school, group bully behaviour.

We all suffer the cruelty of others in work environments. Many leave depressed, other quit to run their own businesses.

I know how to fit in in any work environment. I know how to tell the right jokes and participate appropriately for the class of work. I choose not to sacrifice my integrity. As I wrote way back in 2007 when I was debating with the President of the Chamber, I'd rather be poor than sacrifice my morals to fit into their crowd.

Now what was calling me an idiot in your title supposed to do? Make me feel bad? Get others who read the title to laugh? Henry David Thoreau wrote about these behaviours as did Emerson and dozens of philosophers before them.

As I said, until we face the truth of our society, that we thrive with bullies, nothing will change.
Idiot
Comment by Rory Brown on 27th February 2013
Merv. I bet you were picked last for dodge ball when you were a kid. I was a member of the Boy Scouts when I was a kid, and we never picked on ar beat any one up. there were kids of all races and color, and it didn't matter. We were in a CLUB and we had fun. The pink shirt is to rase awareness of a growing problem, not a club that is there to put peer-pressure or intimidate any one. Who are you going to call a bully club next? The Salvation Army?

Look at that, right off the bat it begins with name calling
Yes, I join no clubs
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 27th February 2013
Out of respect I did join the legion a few years back but I never join clubs. I was forced of course, to join Unions when working but even there I was forced, by rules, to never turn in a corrupt member. Men in all clubs, Lions, Rotary, Chambers of Commerce, Medical Associations, etc etc are all intimidated to comply with the precepts of the norm. Women suffer the same.

What we need to do is teach our children how to be strong independent thinkers who will in time transform the nature of clubs to be welcoming of differing points of views, no matter how radical.

Try joining the local Chamber and Rotary and then speak positively about the Indian Nations and their traditional rights and see how many outings you get invited to. To be invited into the inner circle it is best to talk about how they get too much from the tax payer. Do that and you'll get invited to others homes for dinner.

Today, pushing the boundaries will only be tolerated so far before one is forced out.

I am glad for the positive awareness the pink shirt effort has, I'd rather people did not need to feel good because they wore a pink shirt but felt good because they stopped a group like the girls in Victoria who all joined in to kill Rena Virk. That is Club mentality. It is what I learned only too well about our capital city and its offspring.

It is the foundation of bullying. Why we avoid truth is beyond me, is it too difficult to accept? Does our cognitive dissonence block our brains?
Another thing
Comment by Dave B on 27th February 2013
I have witnessed in the school I work at that the pink shirt movement has had a positive impact on the children and their dealings with others!!
So you think
Comment by Dave B on 27th February 2013
So groups of people that band together like Lions Clubs and the other service groups to collectively do good for a community are bullies.
Merv there are many many groups that do worthwhile things for the benefit of others.
I bet you belong to some sort of association - does that make you a bully??
We all are and have been a bully in some way - it's nature, just some do not take others feelings and the consequences into consideration.
Good grief!
Comment by Janice Robinson on 27th February 2013
I got my nice purple, long-sleeved tee-shirt on today.

Wearing pink tee-shirts is not going to stop bullying. Give your heads a shake.

But, if wearing a pink tee-shirt today makes you feel good.... then you just go right ahead and put it on.
I WILL wear pink
Comment by Tyler Clarke on 27th February 2013
I WILL wear pink today, and I will wear it proudly. This is not to "join a club" but to be a part of a partnership across Canada to raise awareness about the issues that arise from bullying.