214 – On Bullies And Justice

When the videos of former Ateneo junior high school student Joaquin Montes bullying some of his batchmates surfaced and went viral, an overwhelming majority of people called for swift disciplinary action. Some even called for Montes to be given an equal dose of the treatment he dished out, notwithstanding the violent consequences in the end. Such a response is understandable; bullies get away with their crimes with impunity and divine justice acts slow.

I reacted similarly upon finding this out, being a victim myself. I condemned the slow, turning-a-blind-eye response the Ateneo administration did – much like how Claret showed its apathy during the time I was in high school. It made me wonder: do Catholic schools sweep bullying cases under the rug for the sake of reputation? I did change my stance in time, as Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ ordered Montes to be excluded from the Ateneo with no chance of returning. Kicked out, in layman’s terms. It may not be enough for some, but at least Ateneo did something in a formal capacity.

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Now, moving on. I posted the preceding pictures in my Instagram stories, and I didn’t expect a lot of feedback from most of my circle there. Here’s the gist if you’re too lazy to read: I encountered one of the bullies who made my high school life difficult, but didn’t confront him then and there. Eleven years I waited, and now God puts my enemy ahead for me to strike down. A different person would have been thankful for the chance to smite down his enemy, eternally grateful to God for a chance to vanquish his foe.

But I let him leave.

Was it a missed opportunity?

“For He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”

Matthew 5:45

This aforementioned fair-skinned tisoy (local parlance for a mestizo) bully graduated grade school from Ateneo. However, he did not make it to Ateneo high school for some reason – thus, he transferred to Claret alongside a few schoolmates of his. I don’t know; kicked out, maybe? All throughout high school, he boasted that he would return to Ateneo for college.

Equity has guided man for the longest time now; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Our inclination towards equity while in an unfair world makes us exhaust all means to get what is rightfully ours – whether it’s vengeance over a past misdeed, or what have you. I myself wanted to exhaust all means to get even the moment I saw that bully. I could have confronted him right on the spot, releasing more than a decade’s worth of frustrations and finishing off with a curb stomp. But after that, what do I have? A corpse in front of me, a criminal record, and 25 to life.

“Beloved, do not take revenge but rather, leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written: vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Romans 12:19

Let’s wind the clocks back a few years.  A classmate of mine in the required freshman English and Literature subjects was among the close friends I had in college. This friend revealed that the bully was a cousin of hers, and that he never passed Ateneo’s college entrance exam in the first place. In addition, she told me that the bully graduated from De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, right across the main university. I paid no mind to him ever since I graduated from high school, eventually getting my degree in 2012. Karma going full circle? Maybe.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7

A lot of emotions came in a rush the moment I saw that bully. Forgiveness wasn’t among those emotions. It would take a saint to be actually cordial with someone who messed with you back then, left noticeable repercussions, and got away with nary a slap on the wrist. I’m not exactly religious myself, but at that moment I felt the Lord stop me and say: Let him go. You have a better life now. Don’t ruin it.

I have had closure from a seemingly unfulfilled college life, and have forgiven myself for a disappointing past. I am at peace now, and God has determined that it isn’t fruitful to pursue an old foe. Heavenly retribution comes at its own appointed hour. It moves slowly not because we do not deserve justice, but because we deserve inner peace.

15 thoughts on “214 – On Bullies And Justice

  1. Monch, Ate Tina is so proud of you! This is
    an epitome of how Christians should endeavor in following the ways of the Lord; something I am still struggling with up to this day.

    This is so inspiring. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome! If anything, credit should go to the Jesuits likewise for making reflections that use real-life situations as an example. 🙂

      Following the Master’s way is difficult – but what is important is we discover Him, whether along the journey or at the end of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Indeed, vengeance is His, He will repay 🙂 To forgive is not easy, but that’s what He said we should do [Matthew 6:15]. In the end, forgiving others is for our own benefit. Glad to see someone allowing God to guide him. It’s true that there’s no other way to overcome this but the Lord’s way. Will keep you in my prayers, Monch 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good for you to find inner peace. I was also a bully victim when I was in high school due to crab mentality. It took me years to stop myself from questioning my self-worth. Right now, I already forgave them but I was not yet ready to face them (I’ve been dodging High school Reunions haha).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. But as much as I try to seek inner peace, there are moments that violent thoughts enter my mind. Surely, years have passed – but the scars have never fully healed.

      Like you, I’ve avoided high school reunions – but mainly because nagpipigil akong makapanakit ng ibang tao. I know that if I fight them right then and there, I’m outnumbered many to one (unless I have firepower), not to mention na wala rin akong mapapala in the end. Besides, nakuha ko na rin yung diploma at yearbook ko so why should I return?

      Like

  4. Hi there, Monch Weller. This is really touching to me personally. Thank you for sharing. 🙏🏻

    My own story is about surviving childhood emotional abuse—and coming to know inner peace. It’s a process! I wish you all the best on your healing journey! Healing is possible! Good to meet you and to be in be in your company.
    NZ 🧚‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Likewise, thank you for following The Monching’s Guide. I was unable to thank you immediately after you followed, as you didn’t have an active About page.

      It does take a long period, but time indeed heals all wounds. Do note, however, that there are times whenever I feel the need to fight back and confront the bully I mentioned in that post. I know the area where he lives like the back of my hand, given that I frequented it in college. This wasn’t the first time I encountered him post-high school; there was an earlier instance I didn’t mention, but that was back in my undergraduate studies.

      Like

  5. What an incredibly insightful comment on your experience and reaction to having been bullied. Facebook really has helped to create a way to “see” your former bully or bullies in a safe way, too, right? We can search their names (though hopefully only once, for curiosity’s sake!) and catch a tiny glimpse into their lives. Most childhood bullies outgrow their outlandish stupidity and they aren’t giving us a second thought. The victims of childhood abuse and violent bullying take that pain with them, unfortunately. My hope is that victims of bullies release the burden of that pain and grow into their full potential as contributors to society. They are the true heroes.

    I loved this post today. 💖

    JM

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope so too, but it’s not that easy. The context of bullying is different in America.

      Whereas the bullies there tend to outgrow their ways and mature into productive citizens (usually blue-collar workers), it’s different here in the Philippines. In my case, most of the bullies during my time joined gangs — similar to MS-13 or the Crips — after graduating.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This post is an eye opener. Thank you, Monch. I find it hard to forgive the people who bullied me back in highschool, some were even my friends and I hate it that they can go on with their lives, even become successful while I have to deal with the trauma. I understand that they were not happy with their lives and had to take it out on someone else but it’s still wasn’t fair. I wish I had the courage to fight back. But maybe, I’m only punishing myself by not moving on. It won’t be easy but I’ll do it, slowly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment! ☺️ But you know, it might surprise you that some of them have changed their stance.

      I met with an old class mate from both high school and college some time ago; he was in charge of recruitment for a company I applied in. He told me that in the course of the years that he was in touch with some high school batchmates — most of them regretted their past actions and, if given the chance, would make amends and reconnect.

      Liked by 1 person

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