I was ecstatic.
When reporting on my ancestry, I said I was from Czechoslovakia. Sometimes I spelled it – showing off just a bit because it was a six syllable word. But most of the time, I just wanted to beat classmates to it and tell my version first. I was in third grade.
My heritage. Mom’s side and Dad’s side. Bohemian. Czech. Others. But probably 75% Czech.
My goal: To be proactive. I don’t remember if anyone in my third grade world knew where Bohemia was and ever mentioned it to me. But my goal was to end it before it began.
“My family is from Czechoslovakia.”
Why did it matter?
The joke of the day then was always about “Bohemians.” It was the 60’s. More recent iterations have been “dumb blonde jokes,” “midgets” or ethnic variations.” (We were short on entertainment as tv watching was rationed and phones still had party lines.)
A common one was: “How many Bohemians does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
Iterations readily found online include:
How many Bohemians does it take to change a light-bulb? Five. One who does it and four who would chat about that the old one was much better.
How many deputies of Kénikrát (Bohemian parliament) does it take to change a light-bulb? Absolute majority. The opposition thus could not propose a bill to screw it in the other direction.
How many Bohemian cops does it take to change a light-bulb? Eleven. One stays on a table, four move around the table, next four move in an opposite direction to prevent nausea of the first four, one checks the service box, if the current is on, and commands it all.
How many Bohemian clerks does it take to change a light-bulb? Five. One writes an application form to screw off the old bulb, the second stamps it, the third writes an application form to screw a new one in, the fourth stamps this and the fifth, after few hours of argumentation if there are correct stamps, would exchange it. (Retrieved from IllBethisad wiki – link)
How bad was it?
So many terms come in varying shades. How do we navigate in these times without getting carried away? These definitions from Intermountain Health Care seem to make sense to me.
rude – inadvertently saying or doing something hurtful
mean – purposefully saying or doing something that hurts someone once or twice
bullying – intentionally aggressive over time and often involving an imbalance of power
So the intentionality matters. Multiple events over time matters. The perceptions of the “wronged individual” matter. It’s possible that rudeness could develop into meanness over time and as specific behaviors became habituated. Yet I don’t know if one could become a bully without being aware of the hurt they were causing.
Was it rude? mean? a case of bullying?
With the passage of time, it’s hard to say.
I still have that gnawing, churning feeling in my stomach when I hear jokes that demean any group of people… even by profession!
What I do know is that we must be more aware.
It’s not okay to let incidents pass by. It may be the first instance that I’ve heard that comment, but what if it has been long standing behavior by the speaker?
How do you differentiate between “rude, mean, and bullying”?
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