“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.” (John 8:7-11)
Bullying can happen in any sphere of life and at any age. All that is required is another person, or group of people, who are willing to use their influence or power to make you feel inadequate and worth less than you are. Human social structures seem to always be hierarchical in nature and you could argue that because we feel more comfortable when other people are below us in the structure we manufacture reasons to place more people there to soothe our egos. Jesus confronted the bullies of his day – the religious leaders – and they set out to trip him. The above verses are one such example of these interactions which highlights the oppression of women at that time. Jesus’ simple, non-confrontational statement vividly highlights the illusory notion that they were somehow superior to her. Now while we can’t necessarily hope for insightful one-liners like that in moments of tension, we can be proactive in developing a culture where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, not because they’ve earned it, but because it is a fundamental human right.
Dear God, social interactions with other people can be complicated and easily become difficult – please help us to model healthy, respectful ways of interacting in the way we respond to people; regardless of how challenging they may be. Through these small actions may we slowly break down any negative patterns of behaviour throughout our school and community creating a safe, respectful environment for everyone. In Jesus name we ask, Amen.