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Give me a break
When countries act like schoolyard bullies

February 5, 2002
The Iranian

I went to pick up my 6-year-old son Kian from his school bus stop yesterday, and before he got out I heard him say in an angry tone, "Stop saying that!" to a kid in the front seat as he leapt out of the bus.

I was surprised to hear him say that. After quizzing him a bit, he told me there is a second grader on the bus who is a bully who keeps harassing all the kids weaker than him before they get off the bus. The bus driver -- he's a nice man -- says nothing to the bully. So this goes on day after day.

Kian tells me he wouldn't mind hitting the bully, but he knows we have taught him to try and be nonviolent and therefore we have taught him to respond to the bully by saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

You know the story of the schoolyard bully. Most of us have firsthand experience from our childhood when another kid would pick on us for no reason. They just pick on you every day in class, in the playground, on the bus, until you the "victim" either have to stop going to school (by feigning sickness, fevers were an excellent excuse I used -- a raisin under the tongue always helped increase the thermometer temperature a few notches).

Or you would respond by closing your eyes, throwing a punch towards the bigger bully and hope that you knock him out and embarrass him before he can retaliate. In the process you gained a reputation as a "tough guy". This has to be done in full view of a lot of the other kids and potential bullies so that they get the message.

Another response would be to just take it day in and day out, cry yourself to sleep sometimes, but keep praying to God that the bully either leaves the school, or whatever accident God needs to make happen, happens, so that he doesn't show up in school any more (giving money to the poor -- "nazr" -- helped make my wishes come true sometimes).

Finally, another good tactic besides learning karate for self defense is making friends with a kid who can beat up the bully if need be. The only problem with this method of defense is that you always have to hang out with this kid, because if the bully catches you in the hallway sans-bully beating friend, it's not a pleasant encounter (again, this is from personal experience in the third grade.)

I mention all this, in order to make a point. I am sick and tried of hearing Iran being bullied around in the media. Enough is enough! Come on, "Evil Axis"? Give me a break, what's next?

This is the way I see it, my son is like Iran sitting on the bus, the "bully" is Israel, every day bugging him and trying to get a response, and the U.S. is like the bus driver, a nice guy, but doesn't stop the bully from bullying. Not only that, but in this case the bus driver actually believes the bully and agrees that he should continue his antagonizing ways.

We all know when a kid bullies others, it's because he's insecure and needs some sort of validation from others when they laugh or cheer on the bully's actions against a weaker victim. Israel seems to be feeling tremendously insecure and keeps feeding the U.S. "intelligence reports" about Iran doing this or that and so expects the U.S. to slap Iran's hand for it. This is a dangerous situation since at some point Iran -- like my son -- won't take it anymore, bus driver or not.

Now, Iran can do one of the following things. It can stop taking the bus (become isolationist, not a good option for Iran or the international community), it can hope that Israel doesn't take the same bus (this just isn't going to happen), it can try to learn self-defense (which it is doing with its arms industry. Israel has nukes, shouldn't Iran have the right to defend itself too?).

Or Iran can befriend a bigger bully (perhaps, China or Russia) and hope that they can assist in beating up the bully if need be (this option is not at all in the interest of the U.S. or Israel and one would hope they would see it coming and desist from this evil-mongering, bad mouthing Iran at every corner).

My advice in response to the "Evil Axis" speech is the same advice I give my son: Just say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but WORDS will never hurt me." It also wouldn't hurt if the bus driver intervened like an adult.

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Sepehr Haddad


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