How to be Creative in a Society Run by Bullies?

If we teach kids about bullying with the aim of stopping it in schools, then, why do we vote for bullies to run governments?

What is Bullying?

SWINDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23:  The National ...
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Using superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.

Toronto’s Mayor Ford called a recent City Council vote on matters related to public transit ‘irrelevant’ when they didn’t vote the way he wanted and is pursuing his vision regardless.  In a democracy.  Bully?


Effects of Bullying

From a recent NY Times column Born to Not Get Bullied,

A recent study from the University of Virginia suggests that when a school has a climate of bullying, it’s not just the targeted kids who suffer — the entire school lags academically. A British scholar found that children who simply witness bullying are more likely to skip school or abuse alcohol. American studies have found that children who are bullied are much more likely to contemplate suicide and to skip school.

If bullying in schools affects the school, and children who witness bullying or were bullied suffer because of it, then what happens to a society that experiences bullying at the hands of the politicians they elected?

Bullying Effect on Creativity?

From the same NY Times column,

Kathleen McCartney, dean of the Graduate School of Education here at Harvard, said … they had been searching for ways to address bullying as a neglected area of education — and as a human rights issue. As many as one-fifth of children feel bullied, she said, adding: “If you don’t feel safe as a child, you can’t learn.”

If people don’t feel safe in when they are asked to create new ideas and make new decisions, they may resist using their natural curiosity, not tolerate ambiguity, and feel uncomfortable taking risks.


  • What ideas do you have or practices you know of that create safe havens for creative thinking and action in business, education, and government? How might you build one in your milieu?
  • What examples do you have of government leaders in democracies acting as bullies?
  • What’s the difference between bullying and being mean?
  • Why are practical jokes funny?