I finally caught it as a rerun tonight. "The Big Bang Theory" speaks forth on bullying.
And it's asking/answering the question I have long asked.
My question has been: how do those people who were horrible bullies in junior high school (or whenever) remember those bullying years? Do they reach adulthood believing that they were just wild and crazy people having a little fun? That there was really nothing unusual about their extreme "pranks" and "teasing" and scapegoating of any one particular individual? Or do they someday actually mature/grow up and realize, MAN, that they were wrong, and HOW could they have acted that way, and then REPENT (for lack of a more precise word) and REGRET all their actions? Admit that they were a real jackass and a horrid creature, blame it on hormones or confusion (without taking complete responsibility, but oh well), and perhaps try to make up for it by being a person of right action and compassion from then on?
The episode shows that Penny didn't remember being bullied in school because . . . she WAS one of the popular mean girls who led the bullying. She didn't see anything wrong with her actions back when she and her friends bullied people. "Well, there was this girl who made good grades, so we took her out and tied her up and left her in a cornfield one night." "Oh, yes, it was funny--everyone laughed." When asked if the victim laughed, she thought for a moment, then replied, "No, there was an ear of corn in her mouth." She really didn't see anything wrong AT ALL with those actions nor see herself as a bully. The two nerd girls get her to sort-of-see that it was wrong, and make her apologize by phone, but it isn't very effective.
The episode also explores a bully who re-contacts Leonard via Facebook. He is afraid to meet the guy for drinks because he remembers all the hideous things that the man did to him, but the group meets the guy at a bar only to find that he wants Leonard to invent something that can make them both "rich." The guy remembers doing a few little funny pranks. It is explained at length that Leonard felt terrorized . . . and then the nerds leave. The bully shows up at their door within a few hours and has come to apologize for the list of offenses. He's drunk, and ends up staying overnight on their couch. It appears that he actually regrets his actions . . . until he wakes up and turns out to have forgotten all about being nice. That was the sentimental drunk thing. It all ends with Leonard pushing the guy and the nerds racing out of the apartment in order to escape. (Actually, it ends with one of the oldest Vaudeville jokes ever: "I don't have to outrun him; I only have to outrun you!" Vaudeville had it "outrun the bear." How times change. NOT!)
So now it is answered for me. These heinous bullies, by and large, remember their actions as "teenage antics" and "harmless play and teasing," no matter how awful. They think of themselves as nice people who have always done right. They consider themselves wonderful Christians/Buddhists/Pagans/whatevers who have always followed the path of compassion, helping others, and no judgment. And they really BELIEVE this. They "sinned" or did wrong in MY view, but in THEIR view, in THEIR reality, it really was FUNNY and not a big deal. Ha, ha! WE thought it was funny!
I wonder, does God/the Universe give them a pass on this because they simply don't know any better?? (Unlike, say, someone being held to account for robbing a bank because he knew fully what he was doing when he shot the guards.) Probably. And that is OK, because God can forgive and forget anything. It's His privilege. I suppose I should hope that these bullies get totally forgiven because they sincerely BELIEVE they never did anything wrong--they didn't just forget about it, but just don't think it was "that big a deal." They saw no need to reform or feel bad about their "childish days." They are now considered contributing members of society and pillars of the community, even if they did put potato sacks over people's heads and drive them out into the country to be dumped into a pile of snow and terrorized and then left to walk back to school or home late at night. Or they held people underwater at the community pool for as long as they dared to, and would have happily drowned those people if they'd thought they could get away with it--because they thought it was "funny." I'm not God, though, and I can't fully forgive them. There you have it--another of my many character flaws.
I'd rather be called to task for things so I could rectify whatever I could and change my behavior and beliefs. The majority would not, says this episode.
How depressing. But at least somene else was thinking about this issue.