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The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs, and explosions, and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy; and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.” 

From The Twilight Zone episode The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, March 6, 1960

In a wolf pack, the omega serves a designated purpose –  as a release valve for those higher ranking. Hierarchy occurs because the omega accepts his role without question.

In corporate life, those who are selected for poor treatment assume the “paws up” position when there is conflict; disagreement; or simply when they are getting the raw end of the deal. They automatically look for a back door as the course of least resistance.

The flip side to low man on the totem pole occurs when slighted souls choose a different strategy. An attitude of disobedience is released when something inside, a silent gutteral utterance of “nooooooooo” in response to maltreatment bubbles forth. I’m reminded of The King’s Speech, when King George VI (upon provocation) proclaimed “I have a voice;” and when Helen in Diary of Mad Black Woman refused to leave her home.

Indignities multiplied can cause atypical behavior in the meek. An onslaught of bullying may in fact create the very transfiguration weasels fear most – an equally matched opponent who can speak their mind.

If more bullies caused indignation, we would see nothing but respectful behavior at work. Malcontents try to validate themselves through contraband – they attempt to self-aggrandize their status while standing on the backs of their peers.

If you’ve previously been the butt of jokes, the target of mobbing, or the recipient of coworker nonsense (and remained silent), then your sense of outrage has not yet been tripped. The tipping point occurs when your inner voice shouts that this is no longer acceptable; when your “authentic self”  announces “ENOUGH.”

When mobbing victims retaliate they are perceived as the problem. So the issue becomes the following: should you confont the aggressor head on, or, should you take a more noble approach? Note that recent movements have been spearheaded by unlikely sources: e.g., Rosa Parks, an unassuming black woman who proclaimed “her feet hurt.” From that point on, things were never the same.

Individuals who feel second class are scared to speak because they fear consequences – not realizing that the price of silence is far greater. The subjugation of an entire people may pivot on one person, who realizes that he/she can no longer live in fear.

A maligned person is a maverick in the making, the precursor to a social revolution. If you are in a disadvantaged position consider inspiring social change. Instead of efforts to get even, to level your opponent or to “return the favor,” show the nobility of leaders who rose above their position. People like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Lech Walesa were game changers. They began small, forgave their enemies, and used bad behavior to envision a greater future.

Broader perspectives enable us to see the bigger picture and the reason for our presence. Unpleasant events can enlarge our purpose, allowing us to become more impactful versions of ourselves. Realize your tormentors are small pieces in a larger puzzle.

If slighted don’t simply turn the other cheek – instead, choose to advance a movement. Be the change you want to see. Remember, “the omega has the most lovely howl.”

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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