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Bullying: The village animal

The term "Bygdedyret" - the Village Animal - was coined by Norwegian author Tor Jonsson (1916-1951) as a common denominator for the negative sides of living in rural areas. It has since become a common term, particularly referring to how the culture of small town and villages enforce the Law of Jante.

Since the Village Animal operates at village level, and with individual and societal consequences, I see the animal as a combination of several elements that combined, and in a specific configuration, generate a hostile environment. These elements are:
  1. Personal insecurity in the affected (mechanics of bullying).
  2. Personal insecurity by those who propagates the Village Animal (mechanics of bullying).
  3. Circular self feeding and/or external feeding of a splitting mindset (generating bullying environment).
  4. Jealousy fed by personal insecurity and/or economic contrast (mechanics and/or environment).
Smaller communities are particularly vulnerable to these elements: It doesn't take many people to make up a large percentage of the community, and the short distance to local government also create a short distance to circular self feeding. External sources, such as media, national politics and the school system, also add to the signals and thought patterns that encourage an environment where bullies and victims are grown.

By smaller communities, we do not necessarily have to look only at villages and towns, we could also be looking at clubs and companies. Basically anywhere a community may occur.

On the bright side, this also means that small communities should also be quicker to change. It shouldn't require too much to do, though I do not currently see government as a player in this:

Top-down government policies against bullying have limited effect for numerous reasons, the main problem being the lack of a universal vision: They apply only for bullying at schools, whereas bullying occurs everywhere and in all age groups.

For this reason, the actual programmes that have been developed are not easily obtainable by the common man. Mostly, you have to apply to take part, you should be a school, etc. While they do see some effects, it does nothing to work on the root causes within society itself. Maybe there is a political reason for this. After all, top politicians love to trash each other on TV, thereby teaching everyone that it is acceptable to do so.

Looking for government intervention is actually to repeat the same problem that allows bullying, now on a larger scale: Outsourcing inner strength. So while one might find inspiration from the outside world, the real work can only start with yourself and with the community coming together to work for a common goal: To accept everyone in the community for who they are, and to help each other thrive.

Dealing with the village animal, therefore, I see as part of the same work as dealing with bullying. The solution is basically a two factor approach: First build your own core self, and second inspire everyone you meet to do the same. Realize that the two tasks are mutual catalysts.

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