Political satirist Stephen Colbert got unusually serious in his contribution for Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project, talking about how he was picked on and called “queer” at school.
But things changed when he saw his friend Pat stand up to a bully. This incident altered Colbert’s thinking, he says, and he realized, “If you don’t give power to the words that people throw at you to hurt you, they don’t hurt you anymore. And you actually have power over those people.”
I feel compelled to point out the Pat method of confronting a bully as described above is probably not a good idea, though I do agree with the spirit of what Colbert is saying.
Also, articulating the idea that “words only harm you if you let them” to young children suffering because of bullying of any kind may be difficult, but I believe Colbert correctly identifies one thing, and that is that bullying is about trying to make the bully feel powerful when inside they desperately fear a powerlessness. It is the bully that is truly weak and not the victim. As such, the bully’s hold is tenuous. Finding help among friends and supportive adults is what is required because it means you do not stand alone, and it’s much harder to bully a crowd than it is to target an individual.
Image taken from It Gets Better video, no infringement intended.