Inspirational speaker says culture needs to change to end abuse

Brock Tully spoke about preventing bullying and abuse on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

SPREAD KINDNESS - Brock Tully, an inspirational speaker from British Columbia, spoke at the Family and Community Support Services event for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15. Tully spoke about spreading kindness as a way to prevent bullying and abuse. Photo Submitted by Allyssa Bremner/Town of Sylvan Lake

To end bullying and abuse, towards all people, the culture needs to change, according to inspirational speaker Brock Tully.

Tully spoke to an audience of roughly 50 people in Sylvan Lake to discuss abuse and bullying. The speaking event coincided with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.

“We need to look at what causes abuse and bullying to effectively prevent the problem,” Tully told the Sylvan Lake News in an interview after the speaking event.

Tully’s talk on bullying wasn’t specifically about elder abuse – it was a little more general, because abuse and bullying can affect everyone no matter the age. Even though it was a more generalized talk, with a bit of entertainment in the form of juggling and magic from Tully, the audience – which largely consisted of seniors from the area – all seemed to take something away.

“I think that the audience really enjoyed his presence as well,” said Event Organizer Allyssa Bremner. “Everybody seemed very engaged in what he had to say, there was lots of laughs throughout the night, as well as personal stories of kindness shared at the end from audience members.”

Bremner said one quote specifically from Tully resonated with her and the crowd: “Wouldn’t it be beautiful if instead we lived each day like it was everybody we meet’s last day, instead?”

This idea replaces “live everyday like it’s your last.” Thinking about others rather than yourself is one aspect to preventing bullying, according to Tully.

“People are disconnected with themselves. Often we see people pick on others because they are unhappy with themselves,” Tully said, adding it was important to reconnect with your heart to prevent the problem.

Tully said it is important for a person who has been bullied or abused to know it isn’t because of who they are or anything they did.

It is Tully’s opinion bullies hurt others because they have “lost a sense of their heart.”

To change the culture is to prevent bullying and abuse in our homes and communities. To do that one has to stop putting themselves first.

“Our world is very self orientated. It’s me first, how will this affect me,” said Tully.

To change the culture, Tully suggests looking at everyone as one, what hurts one can hurt many, he says. What helps, is to create open and meaningful communication between others.

Tully suggested communication is an important step in changing the culture, and should be implemented from an early stage, as children.

“Open dialogue gets people thinking, and allows people to see other perspectives in a safe environment, where their opinion is valued.”

Bremner said his talk on June 15 really resonated with people, and engaged the audience in meaningful thought and discussion about the topic.

“[Tully] really makes you remember that being kind to other people, is not for the recognition you may get, or the money you can make, but it is really about the self fulfillment you can get as well as bringing joy to other people,” she said.

Kindness and love is the way to prevent bullying, says Tully. He believes the cause of abuse can be rooted back to the lack of these two key aspects of life.

It may seem easy, being kind and spreading love, but Tully says to change the world’s culture isn’t as simple as it seems. He suggested it starts at home, with children.

“Showing kids real love, spending time with them will ultimately change the world.”

He says children will respond positively to the love and kindness shown at home and spread it to their peers who will themselves spread it onwards.

“Just be present and do things with your kids,” said Tully.

Alberta has an increasing number of older adults. In 2013 there were an estimated 456,000 seniors in the province, with that number expected to rise to over 950,000 by 2031.

Abuse to people of all ages is often committed by someone known to the victim, such as a family member, friend or caregiver. It can happen to anyone.

“Raising awareness and knowledge of elder abuse can help us understand the contributing factors, recognize the signs, as well as where to go for assistance,” said Bremner.

Abuse can be present in six different ways, and often appears in multiples: physical, emotional, financial, sexual, medication and neglect.

“Albertans can make a crucial difference in keeping older adults free from abuse and helping those who are abused,” said Bremner.

Tully, who has written nine books and has gone on three North American bike rides to raise awareness for kindness, says the culture can be changed if everyone was kind to each other, and simply put themselves in the other’s shoes.

“We need kindness, compassion and caring in our lives.”

For more information on Tully, or the Kindness Foundation of Canada, of which Tully is the co-founder, go to www.brocktully.com.