Given my recent reading on persecution and bullying , I thought it would be timely to discuss one of the intriguing aspects of bullying and abuse that is of considerable importance to the course of my life. For a period of many years during my youth and young adulthood, every time there was some kind of major episode of school violence, I would be painfully reminded that the lives of many of those offenders was not so different than my own. The raw material of years of endless ridicule and bullying is the same, but the result has been profoundly different between the two cases. The space between where I stand as a peaceful and just sort of person and where others have been driven to intense violence is a space worth exploring.
What is the main difference between those two states? For me, I have always sought to do the right thing, to maintain a sense of dignity and to respect others. I have also sought to place my concerns and cares before God to let Him avenge, rather than to take that vengeance for myself. That vengeance is what makes school violence so dangerous, in that the violence is not proportional or directed at the right people. In fairness and for the sake of completeness, we should note that far more people direct violence at themselves in self-harm than direct it in vengeance on others, but that is because the anger and the violence must go somewhere because such poison cannot remain in us indefinitely without causing some sort of serious harm to ourselves as well as others.
It would appear that the most saintly as well as the most savage of souls springs from the same ground. When someone has been drastically burdened far beyond what anyone would want and what any of us can handle on our own strength, there are two options for that soul to take. Either someone can be refined and purified by the difficulties, with a character that is ennobled, or someone can be savagely deformed by the difficulties with the violence directed either internally or externally. Whichever direction one goes, one does not remain “normal.” The heavy burdens imposed by the trials of our lives, particularly the more ferocious forms of abuse, either have the tendency to seal us for the good or for the evil, taking out all of the middle options that most people tend to reside in their lives.
What this means, in a nutshell, is that the pressure of abuse and persecution is a battleground of souls. How do we handle this battleground? None of us are going to escape the trials of our lives undamaged or unscathed, but all the same sometimes we are better for what we have endured. If we are blessed, our trials will give us greater reserves of resilience and character, and will also give us a great deal of empathy for those who have walked the same road that we have and been less successful, since we will know that our success is not due to such modest wisdom and strength as we possess on our own but because of the gracious mercy and lovingkindness of God. And having this grace extended to us, we too can extend it to others, and bind up the wounds of those who have suffered as we have from the battlegrounds of life.
 See, for example: