January 15, 2012

A good question. Actually a few of them.


"Why is it that people have to be mean and hurtful?"

Have you ever asked yourself this question? Perhaps a long time ago, or just yesterday when someone in your life decided to act like a jerk. Or perhaps it was when the guy in the car behind you at the stoplight thought that you didn't move fast enough so he gave you a not-so-friendly shove in the right direction. Whenever it was, I'm pretty positive everyone has asked the question. I remember asking my mom and I remember pondering it in the workplace. On the playground, on a crowded downtown sidewalk or in the small-town diner, it boggles our own minds how cruel we all can be.

I suppose the answer is rather simple: it's because, unfortunately, "we are human and it's part of the human nature." Sounds good, right? We inherited it from our forefathers, this penchant for inflicting cruelty and unkindness towards others. And not just people we will never see again...oh no; it is said that we hurt those that are closest to us. Apparently, most of us just take it for granted that those closest to us aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so we can treat them like so much garbage, inflicting hurt upon hurt. Saying it's part of the 'human nature', thus meaning we can do nothing about it, gives us the perfect excuse whenever we want to take out frustrations on someone else. Surely, being mean to someone else will make me feel better, more empowered, more...validated. After all, I'm only human.

"It is something I've dealt with my whole life."

"I'm just tired of always being on the defensive despite bending over backwards for people."

And haven't we all? The bully in our childhood neighborhood taught us the lesson that some people just have to build themselves up by tearing others down. But knowing that sure doesn't make it easier to deal with, does it? Envy, even jealousy can drive us to methodically plan the downfall, even humiliation, of our loyal friends. Yes, that's right, I said friends. The most ruthless sting of cruelty comes from the ones we consider friends or more, wouldn't you agree? And who better to be envious or jealous than those who know us best? In my personal experience, doing good deeds and being available and vulnerable to others seems to bring on the most harshest of criticism and judgment. I guess the lesson is not to make others look bad...

"Then sometimes, people just know they can get away with it, so they do it. I attribute this to people needing to grind people down to feel better about themselves..."

Just like the bully. I love the following snippet you can read rather regularly on any social media,

"Dear bullies, The boy you punched in the hall committed suicide a few minutes ago. That girl you called a slut in class is a virgin. The boy you called lame has to work every night to support his family. That girl you pushed down the other day is already being abused at home. You think you know them. Guess what, you don't..."

That may be extreme, but it really hits home, doesn't it? The fact is clear - we truly don't know what others are going through, and certainly wouldn't want to add to their pain if we did. Well, most wouldn't, anyway. There are certainly psychopaths out there that are cruel to others because it trips their mentally-damaged trigger. I'm not speaking about them; I'm addressing those normal folk that are just trying to make it to work everyday, provide for their family and strive to have a couple of close friends so the world isn't so lonely. It's those people that are not only treated cruel, but can be cruel to others, as well, especially if they are not paying attention. We all need to keep it firmly in the front of our minds that we don't know what others are going through and perhaps that person you just cussed out in the parking lot had to go home to a spouse that takes pleasure in abusively cussing them out on a nightly basis. It's probably a good thing you didn't know, I suppose - I'd like to think you would feel horrid and sympathetic if you did.

"One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn is that when I react to another's hurtfulness, I'm really only empowering them. If I really want to help them and myself, I have to pay little personal attention to it and let their onslaught pass over me without dampening my spirits. This action deflates the power of their offenses and strengthens my desire to have fun in spite of it all. It's definitely tough, but worth it."

Y'know, I don't like to blame the media and/or entertainment for our bad behavior. But I cannot help to see the difference between shows of my childhood years (albeit reruns) and the sitcoms of today. The Andy Griffith Show, Leave It To Beaver and The Brady Bunch diligently tried to reinforce kind and ethical behavior towards others. Every show featured plots of everyday situations and the preferred right choices. I won't make anyone uncomfortable by pointing out present day shows, but let me just say that of the sampling I've seen of late, just the conversation alone wouldn't scream of kindness or right choices. Mostly, they consist of mocking, sharp teasing and selfishness that typically slides towards sexual innuendo. Certainly not the model of home life I'd like to call 'normal' to my children. And these shows are prime time offerings - let's not even consider the R-rated fodder that is available after the dinner hour. It's definitely a sad state of affairs when the commercials portray a more accurate view of American family life than the shows they are funding. What are we molding our society to be? Unkind and  self-serving, if television is our mirror. Anyone watch any current children's cartoons lately? Yeah, I am appalled, as well.

The bottom line is this: 
No one has to be mean and hurtful, they choose to be that way.
That's right, we all make a conscious choice of how we are going to act, whether nice, kind and giving, or mean, cruel and hateful. A choice. Think about it. What are you choosing?

If you are a believer in the Most High, you are commanded to choose kindness.

If you are a non-religious person, I hope you choose kindness for the good of all living on earth.

If you have children and are a role model for young people, I hope you are choosing kindness.

If you are dealing with the public on a daily basis, I hope you choose kindness.

If you eat out at restaurants, shop at stores or are ever a customer, I hope you choose kindness.

If you are a spouse, you vowed to love and cherish your mate, so I certainly hope you choose kindness.

If you consider yourself a friend of anyone, I hope you choose kindness.

If you are a religious leader, I most certainly hope you choose not only kindness, but righteousness, as well.

If you have parents, I hope you choose kindness towards them for the remainder of their days.

If you are are any of these things, I sincerely and humbly hope that you choose kindness towards others...every day, every weekend, every time you get in your car and hit the road, every time you interact with others, in any and all situations you find yourself, I hope and pray that we ALL choose kindness.

It is not our natural inclination to be kind unless it benefits us somehow, but we can change that. We can become a person that is kind, and is known to be kind. Seek to be kind to others, pray that the Holy One empower you to do so. Look for others who exhibit this kind behavior, and model after them.

Just do it.

Choose to be kind.


*All the above italicized thoughts above were direct quotes from actual facebook users. 

Is your natural reaction to be course and flip, mean-spirited or nasty towards others? Need help changing how you act towards the people in your life? Check out this website that has great tips and ideas on how to be a nicer, more accepting person - STOP BEING MEAN.

Also, a good reminder for us all HERE.

1 comment:

Ari C'rona said...

Yes, it is a good question, and I like your answer - choose to be kind and nice.

I really like the quote about not reacting to others' hurtfulness - it's got me thinking for sure.