The title of this post may sound odd, but I am convinced that the persona of certain communities is to act like bullies towards their counterparts on the local and regional stage. In reality, this assertion shouldn’t be so strange as nation’s have bullied one another for centuries. Sometimes the bullying is endemic over an extended period, while at other times it’s based on a single administration’s actions. I’ve observed both in my career.
There are several means for a city, town, township, or village to be a bully. Among them are:
- Using their population, prestige, wealth, and/or voting power to constantly get their way.
- Taking actions which are overtly or covertly to their benefit, often at the detriment of their neighbors or the region.
- Speaking out on topics that impact other communities in a manner that exudes self-interest versus common good.
- Chastising other communities or individuals both in person and behind their backs.
- Refusing to participate in a regional effort because it does not benefit their community enough.
I am sure there are other examples that could be listed, but you probably get the point by now.
So…how do you deal with the local or regional bully. That’s a good question. To a certain extent it depends if the bullying is a one-off situation or consistent trend. But just like bullying between people, there are some best practices to follow:
- Don’t overreact – stay cool, as the bullying community will sooner or later make a mistake and look bad in the media’s/public’s eye.
- Ignore them – easier said than done, as bullies often are trying to illicit a response. If you or your community don’t respond/react, their power is lessened. Let them be/look like the fool.
- Tell them to stop – be firm and steadfast. Back channels might be a good initial route, but if that doesn’t work, direct channels may be necessary.
- Do not fight back – either your community will end up looking foolish too or it will make the bullying community feel more empowered.
- Find a go-between – consider reaching out to other area communities or organizations like a municipal league or chamber of commerce to act as a go between.
- Build alliances – work around the bully community by building alliances and friendships with other communities in the area/region. Sooner or later the bully community may realize their attitude is causing them to be ostracized and hopefully lead to them being more cooperative.
Any other ideas or suggestions are welcome. It is hoped that communities (and nations) can start to set better examples when it comes to bullying. Young people do not need to see, read, or hear about examples of bullying when they too often have to deal with it themselves in school. As adults, we should be setting a better example of civics and civility for all to follow. A little peace, love, and understanding would do everyone and society in general, a lot of good.