The world is full of amazing people, but that does not mean you will get along with everyone. You will meet many people who have opinions different than yours, but there are usually ways to find common ground with them. However, sometimes people are unwilling to let go of negativity. They focus on differences instead of similarities. These people might use the differences they see in you as a reason to bully, gossip, or backbite. Always remember that you are only responsible for your own actions, not the actions of others. You can try to change the topic, or remove yourself from the situation when someone is bullying you. The Bahá’í principle of unity for all mankind makes it clear that you should not bully, gossip, or backbite. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá expresses this clearly by saying “The worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting.” Never focus on another person’s faults or struggles. Everyone is working through their own challenges. Nothing is gained by dwelling on the negative.
Bullies treat others badly because they are fighting personal battles in an unhealthy way. They have not learned how to handle their problems, so they hurt others as a way to feel better about themselves. When you are the victim of a bully, you might feel like you need to retaliate. Responding this way helps no one. It is not worth compromising your beliefs to try to hurt someone. Instead, have sympathy for the bully and the challenges they face. Staying committed to unity when confronted with disunity will strengthen your character. If a situation is serious enough that you are concerned about your safety, take the matter to someone who can help you like a parent, teacher, or counselor. Talking about a bully to a counselor or parent is not considered gossip.
Everything that we do or see influences us in some way. The more we are around negativity, the more negative we will become. TV and movies often add drama by including gossip and backbiting. This type of entertainment emphasizes our insecurities. It is easy to get caught up in this culture of negativity. We should celebrate our differences rather than use them as reasons to be negative. Bahá’u’lláh clearly expresses how destructive this behavior is by saying “Backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul.”
I grew up in Florida with Bahá’ís parents and siblings. My twin and I wore thick glasses and were shy into our early teens. We stood out from others and were obvious targets for bullies in school…
I grew up in Florida with Bahá’ís parents and siblings. The Bahá’í principles of unity made it clear to me from a young age that I did not want to be a part of bullying or gossip…
I grew up in New York, was very active in sports, and had friends who took sports and school seriously. I found it difficult to resist joining the backbiting and gossip. It was so common…
Finding Your True North
By Thomas A. Russell, Worldwide Publishing Company (August 1, 2014)