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William S. Cottringer

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We are all Prisoners In The Vicious Circle Tit For Tat Bullying Tag Game
By William S. Cottringer
Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Last edited: Saturday, March 24, 2012
This short story is rated "G" by the Author.
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Here is a very destructive game kids are showing adults how to stop.
We are all Prisoners In The Vicious Circle Tit For Tat Bullying Tag Game
By Dr. Bill Cottringer, in association with Storm Door Productions.
Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes—
Countries, religions, girls and men,
Strong, weak, big or small,
All doing the same thing though;
Shouting and spreading their hurt,
Suffering and pain,
Beating others down,
To pull themselves up;
Not seeing their wrongs,
Or admitting insecurity,
Not being content in any way,
Continuing the cycle of hurt,
But never with good outcomes;
But you know what?
We are all prisoners
Of a vicious circle game,
The tit for tat game of tag,
Being bullied and bullying.
How to stop the bullying?
There’s only a few ways:
Own your part,
Take a stand,
Understand the wrongs,
Know the rights,
Live your love,
Keep hoping,
All with compassion,
And right thinking,
Plus good heart.
      I know who “invented” the bullying game (about like Al Gore invented the internet, or the fact that Vietnam vets came back more drug-addicted than World War I or II vets)—You and me. “Oh no that couldn’t be possible,” we chant in unison, “We both know better.” Do we really? I think it only appropriate that we both expose the pervasiveness of this little tit for tat bullying game of tag everyone plays today, working the whole world into a frenzy of a vicious circle going nowhere. And no one can see his or her involvement which isn’t a surprise. Let’s look at the anatomy of a vicious circle with another problem:
     Say something unexpected and undesirable happens to you—you find out your wife has been having an affair with your best friend for the past year. How bad would you feel? Pretty low I would imagine, especially if you were trying to be a good husband in being emotionally supportive of your wife and working hard to stay physically attractive for her. And working hard to be a good bread-winner. Well, this bad thing happens and makes you situationally depressed. You wonder what you did wrong or what your friend has that you don’t and you begin to wonder if this bad feeling is ever going to go away.What is wrong with me?
     Soon you start getting depressed about being depressed. You would like to return to the better you, happy and content. Thinking things are hopeless because of an inevitable divorce, custody battles over kids, losing property and maybe even your job, soon zaps your energy to do anything about anything. Of course this just makes you feel more hopeless and helpless and more depressed and less able to escape from the vicious circle of depression that is paralyzing you to nothing, nobody and nowhere, nada. At this point you are depressed about being depressed about being depressed, as silly as that seems.
     Now just substitute the word bullying and being bullied into the equation, with any one of us caught up in a game we can’t even see or otherwise acknowledge. Take John for example. He started out being the neighborhood bully to get everybody’s attention, which of course didn’t really work to his advantage. As always someone else came along who was bigger and could pound him harder. Now keep in mind this was back in the fifties when people actually fought with their fists and didn’t even think of the violence guns could do. Thank heavens or John would have never graduated the 7th grade.
     So John finally started to use his head because that is what smart kids like him are supposed to do. He collected a week’s lunch money and gave it to a rough-neck friend on the other side of the tracks to beat up the kid who was terrorizing his on his way home every day from the ninth grade. So now in high school there was some breathing room without the fear of being bullied and of course no need to bully back. But much later he was disappointed when he finally made his 25th High School reunion and wanted to meet up with this kid he knew was a twerp and littler than him now. He actually wanted to confront the kid and take him outside and give him a grown-up pounding. But the kid had died prematurely. He probably got bullied back big time for his own bullying.
     At any rate, and in between, little John joined the marines and came back a big John. But the taste for playing the tit for tat bullying tag game had been ignited fiercely with having to fight a war to help the little gunless people defend their freedom against bigger people with a lot more guns. But by this time John wanted to engage in the bullying game legitimately so he got a good education to be smarter than others and a job in a prison so he could “help” inmates learn right from wrong and become law-biding, tax-paying citizens just like him. Just more bullying and being bullied.
     This was a game John could play well though because he actually learned the requisite skills in being a very effective prison warden early in life. Part of his childhood bullying game was taking neighborhood kids one year his junior and making them captive prisoners in his make shift prison out of tall weeds in the empty lot next door to his house. John doesn’t like to think about all the ways he tortured his helpless neighbor prisoners, because he is now educated and nice educated people don’t do thinks like this even at their worst.  And they surely don’t admit it.
     Like it or not and admit it or not, John was kept a prisoner in his own tit for tat bullying tag game.
The good news is that all his own experiences, throughout his life with bullying and being bullied, led to his mind opening eventually, which finally realized that all the games of life, work and relationships are all founded on the “Tit 4 Tat” bullying tag game. It is founded on a zero-sum, win-lose game where all the players are victims and villains and “prisoners of their own device” like in the Eagles song.
     Let’s get real here and expose the magnitude of the problem. The government bullies people by merely doing what they do, like making over-controlling laws and regulations, upping tax collections every chance there is, owning major institutions by bailing them our financially, curtailing and infringing upon individual’s freedoms that the country was founded on, and getting us into wars with hidden motivations for bullying back the dictator bullies or stealing back oil.
     The country’s major institutions—criminal justice, social welfare, schools, churches, banks, Facebook and Twitter and other Internet social media sites, housing, automotive, mental health and the like, all bully with imposing their solutions to prevent unfair bullying, but just being another form of bulling itself in disguise. Husbands and wife’s bully each other and their kids with over-control strategies aimed at helping move the situation to a better place and that rarely happens. And the kids bully the parents back with getting in trouble at school.
     We are all being bullied one way or the other and we all find a way—between extreme aggression and violence to passive door-matting to react back and get back in however ways we think are okay, feeling like a “victim” in a particular situation. We even perceive God to be bullying us with unfair pain, suffering, problems and burdens that are beyond our ability to accept or deal with. Life presents challenges every minute and we react back by allowing ourselves to be bullied or do the bullying ourselves.
     But in doing this exposure of a mass problem, we all have to assume the responsibility of coming up with a viable solution moving forward and upward, instead of just allowing the problem to spiral downwards and backwards. The bottom line to stopping this perpetual lose-lose game involves learning some critical insights and applying the lessons one person at a time:
1.      We all bully and get bullied throughout our lives and there is no real clear understanding of when or which one starts first and causes the other or gets caused by the other. These events and reactions are like a moving rubber pretzel. The pretzel is always moving through space like a blur, denying any untangling or visual contact.  
     But in understanding and accepting this reality—that we all perpetuate this stupid no-win game of being bullied and not reacting with these events effectively or bullying and not seeing the failure in that reaction—the sizzle and intrigue is taken away and its mysterious perpetuation is no longer mysterious. We are all “reacting” to the things in life rather than “acting” to proactively prevent them from happening the way we don’t like because we all know deep down that this stupid approach, although it may be natural from so much brainwashing, is getting no one anywhere, anytime, anyway.
2.      Like any social problem that is supported and worsened by the masses, without collective ownership which is really an impossible dream, it all has to go back on the shoulders of the individual who started the bullying game (John)—to accept ownership of the irresponsible use of his freedom to do so and start creating the consciousness of correction, one person at a time. They say the energy to make constructive changes in resolving even the most ornery problems like war, only needs to be about 1% of the population’s collective energy. That is completely doable if enough people think it is. Are you one?
3.      The corrective consciousness involves some serious mental paradigm shifting with such perspectives as: (a) taking on a possible win-win mentality of cooperation vs. a real ongoing win-lose competition mentality, first hinted at in the Movie “A Beautiful Mind” with John Nash being portrayed by Russell Crowe (b) exchanging the selfish perspective of separate individual egos for the generous humility of the greater good of oneness, and (c) stopping our own individual treatment of other people like irresponsible infants and starting to  treat them like responsible adults wanting to be their best selves. You, like all the rest of us are a willing participant in the bullying game.
     When are you going to catch yourself with your hand in the cookie jar and wake up like John?
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings.
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and“Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill is presently working with Storm Door Productions in filming a short on this article. Please direct any questions to Bill at (425) 454-5011 or 

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