Sacrificed Life

In view of the discussions that followed the recent remembrance days, I would like to point out a common assumption that tends to be overlooked.

The media, school teachers, politicians and most other officials remind people that we have to honour the soldiers that “sacrificed their lives”. The common message, whether in official lessons or speeches or in angry comments on Facebook, is that being against war is wrong, because the soldiers gave their lives for our freedom.

But in those phrases lies a deception. By using it as a verb, which is an action word, there is the implicit message that these soldiers actively made this sacrifice; that they went there to do so and that there was a choice involved. But they did not choose to sacrifice or give their lives at all. Even if they knew the risk, most had no choice but to go and they lost their lives unwillingly. It is simply not the case that the soldiers of the last world wars went to war with the same mindset as the Roman soldiers or the Vikings, knowing they would not come back; instead they went believing they’d be on a great adventure or because they could not face the repercussions at home if they did not. Most didn’t think at all; they just did what they were told. The message was that they would come back as heroes.

In other words, except for the odd volunteer, most had their live sacrificed for them; somebody else took their life from them; they didn’t give it. In the first world war, countless soldiers died at the hands of their own people (for disobedience or pacifism) and not at the hands of the enemy.

Those soldiers in the trenches had a better rapport with the soldiers across from them (officially the enemy), who were no happier to be there and all of them just wanted to go home. The soldiers who died did no more sacrifice their own lives than the sacrificial victims of the Aztecs or the Jews in the concentration camps.

In short, saying “they gave their life” or “the sacrificed their life” is a deception.

Therefore, those people who take the side of peace, are speaking in name of the victims of war, whether civilians or sacrificial soldiers (cannon fodder). To accuse people of not being patriotic if they care for the victims instead of the soldiers is not only misunderstanding the psychological aspects involved, but it is misleading the public.


Wearing a White Poppy

I walked in on the wreath-laying ceremony for Anzac Day today. There were countless people wearing red poppies and many military representatives. Those are, of course expected at a ceremony that is trying to remember the soldiers who died in the world wars – in the case of Australia and New Zealand that focus is mostly on the First World War, which is now a century ago.

Wearing a white poppy (for peace) results in being frowned at, and, occasionally, verbally attacked. Being a voluntary choice, it is, of course, not quite as bad as having to wear a Star of David in WWII, but it did give me a sense of what the people there must have felt. Being different is not tolerated, no matter whether that difference is inborn or a belief, and especially if that belief contradicts the goals of those in power. Peer pressure, even today, declares the people who ask for peace or who wish to commemorate innocent civilian victims of war (including children) as outcast, because it takes away the glory of the military victims.

Such peer pressure is tangible during an event like Anzac Day, at which  not only military representatives and many civilians representing community groups were laying wreaths, but countless school children, in school uniform. Even more shocking was the introduction speech, which commended the presence of those children and their uniforms, suggesting that this is a measure of respect and remembrance.

It also is an easy way to recruit soldiers for the next war.


Of course, uniforms and badges are expressions of obedience to authority, but what these children don’t realize is that the soldiers they are remembering did not volunteer for the military or choose to risk their lives for the cause. The vast majority of them was forced by conscription and most would have preferred peace over war. They did not GIVE their lives; their lives were taken from them, which therefore does not constitute bravery or fighting for your belief; it constitutes murder.

These school children are also misled because they are told only one side of the war story; the truth about what happened to pacifists and civilians at the hands of the military, nor what is today being done by their ‘brave’ soldiers to civilians in foreign countries, is not required learning for school children in uniform.

From the day they set foot in school, kids are made to believe that soldiers fight against oppression and for peace or freedom and that they will continue to do so. What they are not told is that soldiers swear obedience to their government, no matter what its agenda, which means that if a tyrant takes over, they will obey the tyrant. Hitler’s soldiers also believed they were in the army for peace and freedom until Hitler took over. American soldiers, still priding themselves on the WWII win (even if they are way too young to have been involved), obeyed their orders under Bush and started torturing Muslims and Russian soldiers in the belief they are serving their country, today take part in torturing homosexuals. Not one of them will refuse orders; soldiers act on command; they don’t think, because they are not expected to.

In short, the indoctrination, especially at an event like this, is overwhelming and chance of peace for the next generation bleak looking if most people follow obediently without thinking.

If we truly want peace, then we must change the stories we tell our children. We must stop lying and deceiving them with one-sided historical accounts. We must stop pretending that the involvement of the military is compatible with peace. It is NOT! There is not and never has been a war fought without soldiers. There has not ever been a tyrant or oppressor without soldiers to do the dirty work for them. War and tyranny are not possible without those who sign their lives away to become tools in uniform.

Soldiers don’t exist because there are wars; wars exist because there are soldiers.

This last sentence is quoted from In the Real World by Nōnen Títi. If you agree with that phrase, please share it.



Soldiers are to War as Breathing is to Life.

Year after year, every country organizes memorial days for the wars they fought in the past. ANZAC Day is the Australian and New Zealand version of this, but for what follows, it matters not which country you live in and what wars you remember.

Of course, not every war from history is celebrated – or we’d never stop. Besides the allies from one war becoming enemies in the next, usually fighting over similar ideas, which most people have long forgotten. It benefits governments to pick the most recent wars, because they can motivate people by referring to their still known ancestors. Who, after all, knows whether their family members were involved in which Medieval wars.

Memorial days are there to keep the war alive. If they are made a big deal of, it is usually to remind people that their government was on the right (read “winning”) side and therefore that people should be grateful to live in their country and not complain too much. Usually, governments will not make a celebration out of the wars they lost; they might have a small commemorative monument, but they will not emphasize the day, and so for other historical behaviour they are ashamed of.

For example, New Zealand and Australia commemorate the First World War – which is known as “the Great War” – even if there is probably nobody alive today who remembers it. Nevertheless, they make a big event and allow the greatgrandchildren of those soldiers to dress up in military uniforms and wear the medals. But the New Zealand Land Wars – the wars the invading Europeans fought with the native Maori over ownership of the land and other rights – are not celebrated with a day off and parades with dressed up kids, because they are an embarrassment. Worse than that, the government refuses to make teaching the land wars compulsory, but insists that children learn all about the First World War – which started a mere forty years after the last Land Wars and cannot be considered outdated any more than the first world war, especially in view of the importance Maori people attach to knowing their ancestors. Some people argue that they were civil wars and therefore different, but they were not civil wars in the eyes of those who had been invaded. That would be the same as saying that the occupied European countries fought a civil war, because Hitler had decided the land was his. The American civil war, for example, was between different fractions of the white invaders.

Australia, which has an even worse track record with regard their behaviour toward the native population tends to proudly teach its convict history in schools, but conveniently forgets to mention the way they removed an entire generation of native children from their homes in the name of white supremacy.

In other words, both countries’ obsession with the European wars, with which they continue to identify, is kept alive to have something to celebrate in the face of the rest of their history being shameful.

I will not argue the political details of any of those wars. My goal is to deal with the concept of war itself. Because, if we truly want world peace, we have to change our attitude to war as a whole and not justify one war in favour of another, because, obviously, different people are going to consider different wars justified, which only continues these conflicts.

For me, there are only two parties in every war, and those parties are always the same: Soldiers against Civilians, no matter what their nationality, culture, ethnic background, religion or belief. There are those who make war and there are those who suffer from it.

As explained in my philosophy book, Homological Composition, every soldier you meet today – those who have chosen to become professional soldiers and walk around the town in military uniform, even if we are supposed to live in a time of peace – will repeat the same slogan: that without “them”, we would not have freedom and free speech. In other words, they take credit for having won a war that was fought before they were born. They equate their “soldiership” with the collective and make “being a soldier” their identity, so that they do not identify as individual human beings, but as “soldier”, which is why they wear the uniform.

In name of dead soldiers who “sacrificed their life for their country” governments use soldiers and police to silence those demonstrating for peace. If civilians are lucky enough to live in a country where the oppression is less open, they get verbal abuse for not being grateful and unpatriotic and so on; if they are unlucky, they are often violently silenced.

But the government that today makes this claim for their country, is not the same government as that which engaged in the war, no more than today’s soldiers are the same soldiers. They are claiming the right to a piece of Earth that has changed hands thousands of times during history, based on a selected historical event. That, however, can never be right in the eyes of those who do not identify with a nation (an abstract entity called a state that exists only because the soldiers they employ use weapons to control the people who live within their equally abstract borders. The population is kept within those borders with tools like passports, taxes and soldiers guarding them.

Besides, most soldiers who died during the world wars were conscripted, which means they were used as fodder; their lives taken from them, not by the enemy, but by their government, to be thrown away as bait for the enemy. By saying that those soldiers “died for our flag”, they imply they did that willingly and they call them heroes. In short, the nation reciprocates (or washes their hands of their guilt) for taking their lives by force with the label “hero.

In New Zealand, thanks to the public displays of some action groups, some schools are tentatively beginning to acknowledge that conscientious objectors were tortured by their own people during their ‘Great War’. They do so, only because they can no longer deny that this torture took place. Likewise, every child in New Zealand knows that Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest; that he is a national hero, but neither teachers nor government remind the people that he was also a conscientious objector. That information is deliberately kept away from the children. Worse than that, the national museum has put a big war display on, but it called in the police when the action group put up a statue of a conscientious objector outside their door to remind them that their exhibit was biased.

Without any doubt, all other countries have similar discrepancies; every reader will be able to find those in their own country. In all countries, history is selectively remembering only that which benefits the politicians in power today. One of those benefits is that they need the support of the people for their next war. Those frightened young boys the historical government didn’t give a damn about when they were alive, are now called heroes and as such used to recruit the next generation of cannon fodder.

But wars are not fought by heroes, because, to be a hero, you need to identify as a human being, not as a “soldier”. Soldiers sign away their individuality to become tools of the state.

Soldier is not a profession, because professions are done by individuals to contribute to the society (not the state). The function of a soldier is to kill (the enemy) and to control (the subjects) in name of the government, regardless of the motivations of that government and regardless of how oppressive it is.

War never benefits the people. Civilians, no matter where they are, suffer from war. The derogative term “casualties of war”, which diminishes civilians to numbers without value, are victims of mass murder, defenceless and not involved in the wars of their governments; they only accidentally lived in the wrong place. That a people wants to defend itself against invaders is no doubt justified, but to be able to invade and attack civilians, there is a nation with an army at its disposal. In other words, the rulers have long ago decided that the civilians living on the land they claim are not free individuals but subjects to the nation state. That is another way of saying that the lives of civilians are worth less than that of the rulers and those who control the civilians in their name. In many places, the rulers as well as many soldiers and police are above the law, like when they put a greater penalty on a civilian attacking a policeman than on a policeman violating a civilian.

In short, governments identify with the nation; the police often identify with justice, – although justice is an ethical concept and has nothing to do with laws – and those who have chosen the military identify with “being a soldier”. But that implies all soldiers, including those who fought for Hitler.

These soldiers, who promise to obey orders, make themselves tools of the state and, would the state change rulers, they would still exercise their duty, no matter what is asked of them. Tools, after all, have no individuality. Of course, as in the gun control debate, regardless of whether we believe it is people or guns that kill, getting rid of the weapons (the tools) will stop most of the killing.

Unless we re-evaluate what it really means to be a hero or a coward, we will keep supplying the next war with voluntary tools, so that those can force the involuntary tools when the state decides it wants some more power. In that light; the only heroic soldier is the one who is willing to stand up against their own government. If we truly want peace, we have to start with telling our children that those who control civilians while holding a weapon, those who blindly follow orders and those willing to kill on command, are cowards. We need to understand that peace is only possible if we have no tools to fight wars with. Only if we stop deceiving our children with false hero stories, will we be able to tell them that their lives are valuable; that civilian have value.

Dictators and wars cannot exist without those who obey and do the dirty work in their name.

Soldiers do not exist because there are wars; wars exist because there are soldiers.

My book, In the Real World – written to help young adults understand the emotions and politics that underlie wars, paints a realistic picture of some of the events of both world wars. It will be on sale during the month of April to help create awareness and help the peace effort.

Thank you for reading.


To the Future Survivors of the American Holocaust

Four years ago I wrote “And the Word Held its Breath”. The world could breathe out relieved after Obama was elected. This time the world was not so blessed and rather than holding its breath, it is now frantically trying to take protective actions. This post is a message to the survivors of what comes next, whether they are survivors in the US or in the rest of the world.

I recently read a headline somewhere from a journalist who said that “Democracy means that you sometimes get a leader you don’t like”. They are wrong: democracy means NO leaders; it means mob rule and mediocrity. This is why the mob chose Trump, because they ran after the ideas and didn’t think ahead.

There is too much already said about Trump himself, but the new American president is not the main problem; the problem is the people puppeteering him from behind the scenes, because it is easy to use a simple public celebrity and let him take all the personal heat, while in the background controlling more and more of the freedom of the people, while having indoctrinated the majority of them from when they were too young to understand.

We have seen it before. But the people in Germany, who voted Hitler in, could at least claim not having been warned. After all, the information was long censored and the last such disaster too long ago and Plato unknown to the majority of them. However, the rest of the world: the people who had WWII happen to them; every intelligent person in the other parts for the world, from Canada and Mexico to Europe and the East, warned the American public. They mentioned the Nazi regime, pointed out the similarities and warned them, endlessly. Yet Trump’s puppeteers knew exactly when to put out hate messages; they timed it well; they waited until the thinkers tired of their warnings and then started their smear campaign, which was very effective and the vast majority of voters who fell for it were not smart enough to see through it. They did it right before the final vote and right before the inauguration.

However, a dictatorship doesn’t come out of nowhere, of course. It isn’t the case that the American people were free and democratic and that this suddenly changed. For decades the American public has been kept ignorant of much world news, the schools have failed to make the kids world wise and the schools have indoctrinated them with pledges and one-sided patriotic propaganda. Trump won this time, but it could have been last time and it could have been the next time.

Before Trump took power, we had war and innocent people imprisoned because they were of the wrong race or because they committed crimes like feed the homeless or hungry (which government need for the military) or live off the grid (because the government wants to keep its people dependent on its resources). For a little while did the Dakota pipeline have the people united, but once a judge openly ruled, the interest declined and two weeks later the ruling was forgotten and people once again arrested for being Native American or for wanting to preserve their land. Such acts (that reverse a promise made in public) have been part of the political system from the day the democracy was born.

But since Trump took power, these actions are increasing and openly discriminatory.. Journalists arrested for reporting on riots. The journalists who are claimed as the mainstay of democracy. That is only the beginning. Those celebrities who openly spoke out against Trump will be next and soon everybody will be afraid to speak at all.

But who is responsible?

  1. Those who are seeking power at whatever cost: the puppeteers.
  2. Trump himself and every other person who assumes such a role, whether they willingly allow the abuse of power or are too stupid to see how they are manipulated.
  3. All the other world politicians, who claim to be leaders and stand by and let this happen, just as they let Hitler happen, because they are afraid to lose some of their popularity (and votes and thus celebrity) if they stand up to protect peace before it is too late. Remember, a real leader can anticipate and knows what will happen; if they cannot see it coming, they are in the wrong job, but since they took that job, they are responsible for the consequences. Obviously, the few politicians who actively try to stop this cannot be held responsible.
  4. The voters; those who voted for Trump. It is a sad fact that a small percentage of (usually poorly educated) people get to give the power to destroy the entire world into the hands of one person. An American president has the possibility to annihilate many more people than just those living in his country, which means the rest of the world population should have been listened to. They did warn the American voters, so those who voted for Trump are responsible for what comes next. Do not claim you didn’t know once things get worse, because if you didn’t know, you shouldn’t have voted and if you voted, you should have known. Stupid people should not make political decisions that could endanger people’s lives.
  5. All the people who support the deceptions and lies on which democracy rests. After WWII we should have gotten smart. All the teachers, judges and media. who keep feeding the people the message that they have freedom and a voice, when neither is true: a vote is NOT a voice; a vote is a deception. Those who force children to pledge obedience, which they then blindly follow when they are older.
  6. And most of all: the soldiers (except those few veterans who stood up against the oppressors in Dakota). Soldiers are keeping dictatorships going and they keep wars going. The existence of “soldier” as an institution, causes these wars and oppressive regimes (no matter which country), but they could also stop it. The ONLY WAY that soldiers can stop oppression is if they en masse stand up and refuse to obey orders.

John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson would turn in their grave at what is happening today. The declaration they risked their life for is being squandered by the mob who didn’t understand it. They stood up against a tyrant, because he was a tyrant.

Two things should be learned from this (and should have been learned from WWII):

  1. Get rid of the democracy. A world in crisis needs leadership; politicians cannot be leaders, because by their very definition, they follow the mob. By allowing the misinformed mob to vote, you allow mediocrity and mob hysteria. Any oppressor, with promises and threats, can move such a mob to his advantage.
  2. Get rid of soldiers. It is those willing to do the dirty work for their government that allow this abuse of power. Without soldiers neither war nor tyranny are possible. The greatest danger to people comes from their oppressors, not from foreign invasion. People are born as individuals and free. That some of them claims pieces of the earth for themselves, then claim to own the beings living on that soil and employ soldiers to enforce that ownership, equals slavery. Soldiers may defend a nation or state, but they do NOT defend the people in it. Stop equating soldier with hero as if putting on a uniform makes it so. An individual soldier may act bravely, just like any other person, but soldiers who serve oppressors are cowards.

Time to Choose for the Earth

Last night I met many wonderful people who, in light of the environmental crisis, have come up with great products and solutions.

Of course, as a philosopher, I did not have anything practical or visual to contribute.

Instead, I consider it my job to question the assumptions we have grown up with; I asked whether, if we had to choose – and we may well have to – would we choose our ‘democracy’ or the Earth; our ‘freedom’ or the future of our children and grandchildren.

Despite all the wonderful initiatives, and despite strong and global action from organizations such as Greenpeace, and despite the vast majority of all the people in the world wanting to save the Earth and create healthier and more natural lives, change remains small scale and every step forward comes after a long battle.

Yet the Earth may have no time left for long battles.

Small pro-Earth companies cannot compete with the large businesses and politicians make the decisions that answer the immediate problems without being able to see the big picture, and lately, while taking away more and more human rights, they more or less openly admit making deals with big companies that could leave their people  and their land desolate.

I did not expect as many positive responses as I did get; after all, I was asking the question most people don’t want to hear. Only one or two mentioned that we do not live in a democracy at all, thus suggesting that my question was out of date and that there are already so many people “getting around” the government, so that positive change is bound to happen.

But that was exactly my point. Of course, we are not living in a democracy, because “democracy” as rule by the people cannot exist. It is an ideal many countries strive for, but which can never be fully realized. My question was not how we could get around that, but whether we should be accepting it.

Why should every step forward be a major battle? If democracy – and whether it is so in actuality or not, the government certainly still claims it is – is really the voice of the majority, then why do we allow the government to ignore this majority voice? Why do we tolerate them in power if they are not acting for the people? Why should we “get around” them, if they get paid for representing us?

Why do they say that we have a voice, when all we have is a vote; the two are not the same. The vote is used to tell us to shut up. The message is that “hey, you had a vote, so don’t complain” – and how many people do not simply repeat that message, believing they are speaking out in favour of democracy?

Why should “the voice of the people” have to be in demonstrations and protests, always (no matter how tolerant the country) with the risk of arrest, while the government prides itself on freedom of speech and equality? Why can they not listen to the ideas of the people before they make a stupid decision?

Politicians are not experts in any of the topics they make decisions about, so that without listening to the ideas of the people and the explanations for those ideas, they cannot make smart decisions.

As I said in one of my books: “the wrong people are running the democracy  and the democracy keeps electing the wrong people.”

Maybe it is time we get rid of the myths that we have been brought up with – myths that suggest that a vote is identical to a voice; myths that suggest that the people can be ignored until they cause a big enough riot and that that comprises freedom of speech; myths that suggest that calling your system “democratic” makes people equal and free; myths that make believe that progress and positive change can be achieved in a climate where those who have to make the decisions are unable to do so.

Democracy was a nice idea – and let’s remember that, according to Plato and Aristotle, it never worked in Ancient Greece either – but in a crisis, we need decision makers: leaders, not politicians; the two are not the same.


We Knew Paris Would Happen and We Knew Why… Now We Need to Stop WWIII

The attacks in Paris were horrific; there is no question about that. But we knew this would happen and we knew that the people doing it are not the refugees who are fleeing for their lives, but those who do not want them to do so.

We knew that with all the beautiful Facebook stories that showed the people of Europe welcoming the refuges, it would only be a matter of time before those same refugees would be accused of taking the jobs, especially with the governments in Europe already making life difficult for economic reasons.

We knew that the governments of those countries that were attacked would retaliate, possibly with the persecution of exactly those people they were welcoming just a little while ago.

We knew there would immediately be links made to the refugees, although anybody with a bit of sense understands that it is not being a refugee that makes somebody a terrorist, but that the terrorists posed as refugees.

We knew, because we have seen it happen before… many times in the past. Not only ten years ago in the USA, but at the start of WWII, when France responded mercilessly against the Jews they believed to be responsible for their misery.

Who knows, the attackers chose France today for that reason… because they knew it might respond out of proportion.

But it is the terrorists, not the refugees, who want war, and the politicians (again) respond exactly on cue.

We knew this would happen… and we can know what could happen next….

The only way to stop it, is for ordinary, good people of all backgrounds to not let their immediate emotions run away with them.

Yes, we should feel outraged and sad, but let us not make it worse, because that is what the attackers want. They want your anger, so you will start the war that will benefit them. They want your merciless retaliation…  By condemning the innocent people who fled the war, you are giving their oppressors exactly what they want.

The media is vital in this: if they keep headlining the link to the refugees, they are fuelling the hate. That is not reporting; that is actively contributing.

Think, share and help stop WWIII.

Helping those Living in Isolation Over the Invisible Wall

Imagine living in a tyranny. Your freedom is restricted and everything you do or say could be taken the wrong way. You cannot trust just anybody – they might report you, but you are not alone either; your relatives, neighbours and friends are in the same boat and there is a solidarity between all people, even if it is unspoken.  Often networks and secret codes are developed that keep people connected. This happens not just in times of tyranny or war, but also when a minority is discriminated against or oppressed, like with slavery (the Underground Railroad).

In being oppressed, the people stand together.

But now imagine a free country, where you can say more or less whatever you want, travel to and with whom you want, make friends with many people and reside in many places. And yet, it is those countries or times that see the bigger numbers of lonely people, the higher rates of suicide, and the greater incidence of eating disorders and peer-induced bullying (as opposed to bullying by soldiers in name of the regime).

Our current western society (regardless of which country) is supposedly free, and yet, for some people it is a prison worse than any military tyranny could ever be. Some people are completely isolated, feeling unworthy – so much so that they starve themselves – always alone, without friends, always tiptoeing or being laughed at, or worse, having to fear for their life, tormented and assaulted (by school peers or work peers or neighbours).

They try so hard (and have tried from very young onwards) to fit in and to make friends, and yet they are always told to try harder or to “just act normal”.  More often than not they are the kindest people, who would give away their last piece of bread to a stranger and who would never hurt anybody, not with their hands or with words. And yet, they get hurt all the time – hurt with social and moral judgment; hurt by bullies, hurt by their peers, who ignore them, isolate them, or physically and emotionally assault them.

Sometimes this judgment is openly dismissive, saying it is their own fault for not fitting in, for not being tough, for being different. Sometimes this judgment is covert, presented in helpful advice, such as “stand up straight”, “learn to be assertive”, “don’t cringe”, “don’t be so studious but play sports like everybody else”. Sometimes the accusations are about personal features (glasses, red hair, a different race, a handicap) and sometimes they are about cultural aspects (religions, dress, accent).

But those are all excuses, because there are many people with these exact features, cultural differences and interests in the in-groups (the groups that bully or oust individuals). That is because bullying is not about such superficial things.

Bullying is common everywhere, but some places are worse than others (some work places, some classrooms, some schools, some countries). New Zealand has a very bad reputation when it comes to bullying. The rates are high – and that is only the known incidents, because most victims don’t talk about it; they are ashamed and keep it a secret. Most teachers don’t even know the extent of the bullying that takes place right under their noses and most parents will not know that their child is a victim… until it is too late – until they cannot take the loneliness and the fear anymore, and they turn on others or on themselves (shootings, violence, drugs, suicide, eating disorders).

This usually results in the even more accusations, this time with medical labels (ADD, autism, psychosis) and other excuses, expressed by exactly those who (unwittingly) caused this isolation and thus the eventual outburst – because no healthy, normal person can live in isolation, and no trained soldier (who gets the label “brave”) would have been able to stay sane for as long as victims of bullying manage it.

The society at large, the companies, the schools and the environment all shout that they want to stop bullying and that they are committed to tolerance and individuality, but they refuse to address the problem head-on, because it is easier to keep blaming the individual and consider themselves “normal”. The more emphasis a group puts on “normal”, the more it supports bullying, and this usually happens unconsciously.

Parents often wonder why only one of their children ends up bullied if they raised them all the same. It is easy, so easy, if this happens, to accept excuses about hormones and disorders that point at the child. After all, if the problem is in the child, you, as a parent, don’t have to be afraid that you did something wrong. If it is in the child, you, as a teacher, don’t have to worry that you could have done something differently. And so, unintentionally, we keep blaming the child (the individual victim or bully), because nobody wants to feel  guilty – unconsciously we have to protect ourselves from blame. But in the process we isolate the child even more, because they don’t get the support from even those who are closest to them, those who they looked to for help.

Think about it, because it could be your child, your relative who ends up at the receiving end. It has nothing to do with upbringing or behaviour, nothing with hormones, brains, mental disorders or learning disabilities, but everything with the invisible wall that exists in people relations (the us-versus-them) and that wall is instinctive, abstract and cannot be identified with words that relate to observations or concrete objects.

So hereby: We are all involved. Nobody is to blame, but if we honestly want to be tolerant and stop bullying, we have to change our collective attitude – our view of “normal”. Anything short of that is sticking your head in the sand (in ignorance, in medical labels or in ‘experts’) and that is the exact attitude that promotes bullying.

Over the Invisible Wall is intended to break through that isolation. To get those people who are alone together and find support with each other; to discuss the reasons and so help each other understand – maybe a little like the AA. There will be no obligations, no compulsory need to speak, no lessons or advice – just sharing.

I am starting this group (this trial) in Wellington, New Zealand. Relatives or caring friends can come along, to make that first step easier. And they, too, may want to understand why this happens, why your child?

Nobody can change their inborn personality and nobody can change their natural responses (neither those of victims or bullies), but if you know the reason, they cannot hurt you so easily anymore. There is no need to commit, to sign up or to give us your name or personal details. The first meeting will be on February 6th at 2pm at Te Papa. I will be carrying the Over the Invisible Wall logo, so you can check it out from a distance first. But please, don’t keep struggling alone.

Over the Invisible Wall logo