The Bully On The Rise

The first Avenger just hit the big screens.

Captain America, the Marvel character whose name I found to be so unimaginative (of course I’m no American so I couldn’t relate to his name at all), was one of the much awaited films that would bring about the Avengers movie next year. I’ve seen the first Captain America film (yes the 1990s one) and I could only say that it was made at the wrong century thus it’s creativity with the plot became so limited, it could probably forgotten.

This new one takes on a fresh new look at the Cap and explores his life before he became the first Avenger. What we didn’t know or cared to know was that he was bullied.

He was actually a frail guy struggling to fight his way among the ranks of the steroid induced big men of his time.  In a bid to capture the audience’s attention, creators of the film put on another small fry in a big and difficult world kind of story. I don’t know the details of the film yet, but I bet even I could relate well to the story.

We all know that in this world, there’s always someone bigger, better than you at any point in time. I learned that at an early age after being bullied by third graders when I first entered grade school. Rough play and a lot of ordering around made me feel smaller in the already cramped school van. It wasn’t the best experience. Sure, I wasn’t beaten up but I was pinched, provoked and insulted most times. My only resort was to sleep during the trip from school to home. Probably one reason I had no qualms about sleeping while on the road. I really was a push over probably until now.

I could only wonder where those boys were now.

Bullying has become a problem since time immemorial. Bigger kids with a lot of authority tend to overpower the smaller kids in the school play ground. Wikipedia tells us that bullies tend to be authoritarian, or envious and resentful of the little kids. In fact it has been a stereotype that the kids being bullied are the ones who had the brains and smarts to survive school. More media stereotyping tells us that those kids who are smart and loved by the teachers are often the frail and small ones. The bullies tend to be the jocks and athletic types with peas for brains.

These big boys most of the time are envious of the smart kids because most of the teachers like them because of their academic achievements. So they try to badger these little whizzes to their bidding using their size and strength to their advantage. Thus the toilet shoving (thank God never happened here in the Philippines) and all sorts of pranks happen to the small fries leaving them with little or no egos and a broken self-esteem.

The operative word here is stereotypes.

Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not.

History tells us that bullying has deep roots. The early Christians were bullied by the Romans. Later on, the Jews were bullied by the Christians. The Waldenses were bullied by a rising power pretending to be Christian.

The fourth chapter of the Great Controversy by Ellen G. White tells us about the rising bully. When the early Christian missionaries came to Great Britain, they brought the gospel untouched by any rule save God’s. They started in England but later on when the Papacy reached the shores, they moved farther to Scotland and Ireland to avoid persecution. During those times, the Pope invoked a rule that no man could interpret or preach without the authority of the clergy. They further hid into the shadows when the barbaric Saxons conquered the country. They were left with no choice but to hide.

When the Saxons converted to Christianity, the clergy found out that there were actually Christians living in the shadows. They further found out their contrasting beliefs. A battle of wills occurred which led to the extermination of the group. Strength was used to snuff out the small band of early Christians in Great Britain.

A bully was on the rise.

Next, came the Waldenses. They were a small group of Christians somewhere in Italy.  This group was actually regarded as the forerunners of the Reformation Movement. They were able to translate the Bible in their own time which was illegal at the time, and were able to spread the gospel in various parts of Asia, and Africa through covert operations much like the secret service organizations of today. Moreover, they stood against the rule of the Pope and challenged most of the growing Catholic doctrines. In addition to this, they even had heathen barbaric tribes all around them. Yet they remained faithful.

 “They were surrounded by heathenism, and in the lapse of ages were affected by its errors; but they continued to regard the Bible as the only rule of faith, and adhered to many of its truths. These Christians believed in the perpetuity of the law of God, and observed the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Churches that held to this faith and practice, existed in Central Africa and among the Armenians of Asia.” (Great Controversy)

When the Papal rule became stronger, they retreated to mountainous regions and caves where their operations could never be interrupted or persecuted. They sent missionaries disguised as merchants who offered a lot of goods with a little gospel preaching at the side. Even if most of them were burned or killed as heretics by the Popes, they struggled to remain faithful. Or so we were told.

I could go on, but the description was classic bullying. The use of a greater force to thwart someone smaller as a form of resentment or envy could be seen throughout the chapter. Of course this happened in the 12th Century onwards. We could judge the Catholic Church for what it has done in the past, but we also need to see the opportunity to change. We don’t have persecutions or burning of heretics now do we?

Yet what we need to learn from this experience is that eventually the bullies don’t succeed. In most media stereotypes, the bullies end up being villains or crooks, while the weak and fail end up being the protagonists. Also in most cases, the bullied get to shine and their potentials finally emerge.

Again, stereotypes.

Then again, history tells us the same thing. The Waldenses were able to hold on to the truth for a long time that until today they exist as a church. All those years of persecutions were past (I hope) and they were able to slug it out for so long. Now, the truth has been set free.

The Bible tells us the same thing. Jesus tells us this truth.

And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.”

Luke 9:47-48

Bullies always never win. They never do.


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