On bullying

Bullying, South African springbok edition. In response to various things. From The Seed and the Sower by Laurens van der Post.

On the broad acres of my father’s high-veld estate we had immense herds of springbok. […] I was never tired of watching them, They were seldom still yet never appeared restless for their movements were consistently rhytmical. The patterns they made on the blue and gold veld possessed a curious heraldic quality and on some of our crystal days the herd, from a distance, would appear to open and shut like the flower of chivalry itself. […]

But there was one odd phenomenon that I noticed had maintained itself for some years in the seasonal regroupings of our herd. There was one buck who was never allowed to join the herd in any circumstances whatsoever. Whenever he came near the main herd the bucks, young and old, would combine to drive him away with a ferocity most unusual in so gentle and lovable a species. For a year or two he persisted, often trying several times during the day to rejoin the herd, but each time he was driven off with the same determined ferocity, In the end he gave up and was always to be seen following the main body of his fellows at a safe distance. […]

It was [the narrator’s brother] who one day observed that although the herd had rejected “Stompie” yet he was bound more closely to the herd by that rejection than any of the other animals. They all mated and fought and roamed away on long foraging parties with comparative freedom. But “Stompie” felt compelled to do only what the assembled herd did […] a fated satellite, condemned to circle forever the body which had expelled it. In this role he was not without great value to the herd. Exposed to the danger of man and beast, constantly alone, he developed a remarkable intelligence and heightened presentiment of danger. He was always the first to feel it and then to give the alarm by making a series of prodigious bounds into the air, his pastel coat, sea-foam belly and black-lacquered feet of Pan flashing in the sun.

Look, people. You’re not cattle. You don’t have to act like cattle. But if you choose to act like cattle anyway, then please do me a favour and don’t feel entitled to a response such as that described above. People can be more resilient, more resourceful, and more creative. Even if they’re shell-shocked when you first get them, they can recover. And that could be a problem for you somewhere down the road. That’s all. Thank you.

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