- Books, Literature, and Writing
Eric Berne and Bullying
The famous quote said by Eric Berne explains the issue of discrimination, addressed in the 26 April 1905 vignette, clearly: “The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.” This issue is focused on in depth throughout this vignette. The vignette starts off by explaining that people on higher altitudes are known to live longer because time passes slower from the center of the earth. The vignette also says that the people living on higher elevation, “teach their children to shun other children from low elevations.” This connects to what Eric Berne said. In this case, the little boy is the people on higher elevation, and the jay is the people on lower elevation. This connects to the real-world situation of bullying. It doesn’t completely explain the thought, but the basic principles are the same. Therefore, extending the metaphor even further, the people on the higher elevation are the bullies, and the people on the lower elevation are the people getting bullied.
Throughout this vignette, Lightman continually expresses the difficulty of only living on higher elevation. This parallels bullying in that bullies most of the time have internal problems within themselves that lead to them bullying other people to get themselves away from those problems and sometimes, watch other people face them. This connects to the difficulty of only living on higher elevation, because when the people who live on higher elevation have to come down, they have to struggle to get back as quickly as they can after finishing their job. Bullies in most cases, have to struggle to get back to a safe place after bullying someone. In the vignette, some people in the higher elevation have, “come down to the lower world for days at a time, lounge under the trees that grow in the valleys, [and] swim leisurely in the lakes that lie at warmer altitudes, roll on level ground.” This again parallels bullies in that some of them after their internal conflict is over with, they come back to normal, and stop their acts of bullying. This is only once they realize the solution to their internal conflict, just as the people from the higher elevation did. Finally, one last thing that the vignette says is that, “In time, people have forgotten the reason why higher is better.” Bullies experience the same thing. If they do not even realize that they have an internal conflict, they will continue to keep bullying without knowing that they could do something else to solve their problem.
Bullying completely parallels and stands for the point made in the vignette from 26 April 1905. The circumstances that Lightman shows in the vignette are mirrored by the situations that bullying occurs in. Simply put by Andrew Vachss, “Life is a ﬁght, but not everyone’s a ﬁghter. Otherwise, bullies would be an endangered species.” If everyone lived on the same elevation then, there would be no bullying. Unfortunately, they don’t, so there is.