Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lady Gaga's Gospel & Saving Bullies

Madonna 2.0, Lady Gaga, recently offered a (surprisingly?) nuanced perspective on bullying at a speaking occasion for the launch of her new Born This Way Foundation.

MTV Act Blog – Lady Gaga On The Edge Of Glory; Launches Born This Way Foundation:

'via Blog this'
“The victim and the bully are on the same playing field. We’re dealing in both senses, with someone who’s going through a tremendous amount of mental turmoil. And how do we say ‘You are both equal members of society. You are both equal members of culture.’ How do we not just save the victim but also save the bully?”
In a simple world, there would be victims and there would be perpetrators.  Yet perpetrators are so often victims themselves.  

In A Christmas Story, Ralphie retaliates against the bully Farkus and we discover that Farkus is not so invincible.  Yet, Ralphie is not proven to be tougher.  Both boys end up in tears (eventually), as the consequences of their actions are realized.  The admirable, heroic spirit that motivated Ralphie's pursuit of the Red Ryder Air Rifle may have cost him any chance at getting one, when the spirit of heroism devolved into unchecked revenge.

I appreciate Lady Gaga voicing the common needs of bullies and victims.  This is a cultural trace of Christian theology.  People cannot be reduced to either victim or bully, just like we cannot separate sinners from saints.  Her "born this way" theology can be addressed in another day, another post.

In Harry Potter, the ambiguity of Severus Snape and the efforts of Dumbledore to redeem Draco Malfoy are also traces of the Christian hope that, in the end, even the lions may lie down with the lambs in peace.  That the new creation would be incomplete if brought about by the clean removal of all lions.

Perhaps the centurion overseeing the execution of Jesus also demonstrates the redemption of a bully:
"Truly, this man was the Son of God"  (Mark 15:39).  
The professional bully is able to see their victim as a child of God, as the victim chooses not to respond in like measure, but offers prayers for forgiveness on their behalf, taking the stronger action of turning the other cheek.

Certainly the resurrection demonstrates that nothing that is absorbed by a victim - and not returned in retaliation - cannot be redeemed.

What can we do to love and save bullies?  Leave a comment below...

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