Monday, May 7, 2012

Intervention – Ending Violence the Green Dot Way

Green Dot Campaign
I was lying flat out on the school entrance pavement gasping for breath.   The back of my head throbbed where it had met the concrete.  Dazed and looking at the sky, my fourth grade teacher wagged her finger giving me a severe reprimand about the use of violence.  I had tried to take out one of the playground guys with my grey go-go purse (circa 1973).  There was a group of them who on a regular basis teased a church friend of mine who had a disability.  I believed then and now that everyone should practice the Golden Rule or The Rede.  I also still believe that it is our personal responsibility to not watch passively or turn away when you see someone being bullied, harassed, hurt or excluded.  So when my words didn’t work with those guys, I used my purse. 
The teacher refused to examine my reasons for swinging my purse.  She gave me a two day detention to think about my actions and my purse was to remain in my desk during recess.  Those guys?  All got off clean and continued to bully my friend.
Bullying and harassment hasn’t changed much since 1970.  It happens anywhere and anytime.    Bullies uses many tactic (i.e., verbal, physical and emotion) to make the victim feel hurt, afraid and excluded.   Sadly, there are many witnesses aware that it’s going on.  Most times, these witnesses fail to challenge the bully’s behavior out of fear of what “everyone else thinks,” believing someone else will say something, that they won’t make a difference or better yet “it’s not my business” excuse.  However, this act of silence sends a powerful reinforcing message to the bully that aggressive behaviors are appropriate and acceptable in our community. 
One thing that I like about being a CCWWW is I feel empowered by the number of men and women who are not silent bystanders.  Many of us carry within strong options and beliefs.  I believe our strength comes from trying to live a spiritual life in a culture that doesn’t support or practice The Golden Rule or The Rede; doesn’t value that all creation is connected; or doesn’t support alternative ways from the popular religion.  We seem to know what it feels like to be on the fringe and to be labeled different.  I believe this gives us the ability to extend empathy to others and serve as a leader who can powerfully and magically envision a different world.
This past fall I attended a workshop about the Green Dot Campaign to end violence.  The creator, Dorothy Edwards described how her campaign uses social diffusion theory of responsibility to create community behavior change.  Specifically, opinion leaders within a community adopt and support behavior change.   In the case of Green Dot, the leaders begin speaking out when they encounter any behavior, word choice or attitude that makes their community unsafe.  A leader says: “Hey that’s not cool.”  Or, “How is that joke funny?  I don’t get it?” or they may help someone who is being hurt in an apartment next door.  The premise is if the silent witnesses start seeing and hearing others speak out against the bully they will too.   Bottom line, everyone can do something even if it is just picking up the phone and calling 911. 

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out
Martin Niemöller

Watching Dorothy Edwards

Note:  I love the color – Green for healing our world and communities.  A movement connected to the heart chakra. 

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Hi all - I really like your comments, but have had a change of heart regarding anonymous comments. My CCWWW beliefs are that you need to stand behind what you say and what you do. Peace out.