Bullied or bantered?
According to Wikipedia, bullying is “the use of force, coercion, hurtful teasing or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate.” It is a serious issue in our culture today. While I am totally opposed to bullying, especially when it happens to the young, I think there are times, we can laugh it off and go on with life, thankful that we were noticed. These times come when there is a lighter, less-serious side of bullying that, depending on the recipient, might be called “bantering,” (defined as “to address in a witty and teasing manner.”) In my global travels, I have endured the Mexican people calling me “Gringo” (which I was told meant, “person with the green money, go back home”) the Chinese people calling me “big nose” (for obvious comparative reasons), the little west African children singing to me, “Yovo, Yovo, bonsoir.” (“White person, white person, good day.” But “yovo” can also mean “talking dog.”), and the Hispanic children calling me “Bobo Grande” (“Bobo” meaning “fool” and a big one, at that). I watched teen-agers in Germany laugh as they called my wife, “Big hair” (again for obvious reasons). As for my students, I don’t even want to know what all they called me. Actually, neither bullying, nor bantering, is new. When Elisha went from the spring of water up to Bethel, the scripture says, “Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” (2 Kings 2:23. Read the rest of the chapter to see the tragic ending for the “youths.”). Again, let’s do what we can to stop bullying, especially among the young, but let’s also take some things less seriously. Lighten up, and have a good day.