Shattered By Cruelty

Why are humans so mean to each other?  Why do some people enjoy being cruel to another and why don’t others realize that they are being mean? Many of us know the definition of “mean” through experience, witnessing it, or through the media. In the clip above, the lyrics of Depeche Mode in “People Are People,” are begging for answers to Why? and screaming for some understanding and respect.  The long infinite list of very not so nice things that occur in the world and right in front of our faces, add up to “cruelty”.  By no means of being melodramatic, but I can’t seem shake off this shattered and devastating feeling that I’ve been feeling lately and this is not the first time I felt this way.

Being cruel towards others is a stronger word than being mean but of related nature.  Some of us have experienced or witnessed kids being mean to kids, adults being cruel to kids, and kids being cruel to adults. There are kids bullying kids in school, adults bullying other adults at work. It’s unfortunate that this occurs but happens frequent. I often ask Why?

After witnessing and experiencing countless of things growing up, into adulthood and today, in addition, also knowing what it’s like to be a little mean kid, (hey I never said I was a perfect), I feel I should understand maybe the reason and cause, but there are a kazillions reasons why people are mean: jealousy, power, control, vengeance, greed, and fear to name some.  Behind what sounds like a simple explanation, is actually complex, and everyone has their own reason sometimes dating back to their history.  So what’s left is the question of why keep doing it? Why feed on misery of others?

In kindergarten, I was a pretty angry mean little kid at first.  I was the only Asian kid and I remember on the 1st day of school, I couldn’t stand being stared at.  When the other kids tried talking to me or ask me questions I’d screamed at people to shut up, and kicked some of them when they wouldn’t. Yeah that was pretty mean, and it sounds funny thinking back to it because many people can’t imagine it me doing that now, but I’m certainly not proud of it.  Even though I was young, it was likely because I felt threatened, fear, and went on in defensive mode to protect myself, but that is no justification for being outward mean.

I was also a very bossy kid, telling other kids what we were going to play, how we were going to play, and didn’t realize at the time that ordering people around was also mean.  Being bossy was a likely a means of control, due to having lack of it, as a kid among authoritative figures; so I desired to be the one in control, to do what I want and that no one else (no other kid) could be boss of me.

There were other reasons why I’ve said and done things, but maybe save that for later. It’s always difficult to find out the hard way (after hurting someone often when not realizing it). I eventually grew out of these phases by being around some much more nicer people, observing other peoples behaviors, just growing up and realizing from people’s reactions what’s hurtful, what’s not; also knowing what it’s like to be on the receiving end of meanness. So between these phases along the way growing up, when people were cruel to me, it was natural to try to be their friend, assuming a little compassion and care will tame their dark side.  It’s challenging and does not always work in the real world, but it happened. I remember being bulled by a large group of kids in the back of the bus.. One day the leader of the pack looked distressed being alone without her friend, and I offered a snack, not thinking about anything else.  Then we became best friends for some time. Funny, but true.

A more serious topics popping up more frequent in the news and extreme cases are, “kids bullied to death”, and work place violence .  It sounds like kids and adults are even meaner today, or maybe the news is finally acknowledging the epidemic.  A lot of people don’t understand the seriousness of mean bullies, passing it off as “kids being kids,” harmless teasing or assume adults can take the blow, but cruelty isn’t defined by age.. “mean” is mean and often has long lasting scaring effects from low self esteem, to thoughts of suicide, to violence.  I not only heard about it in the news, but experienced being bully myself before, so I could imagine how kids and adults today feel.  This goes with adults picking on kids, other adults, or kids picking on adults.  We can make an educated guess that it has to do with power, attention, competition, jealousy, etc, but I wonder why must people resort continue be cruel and put misery on others as the answer?

In extreme cases it escalates to violence and murder.  One of the more recent gruesome and devastating news I heard was 4 teens/adults beating, breaking a teens bones, and setting him on fire all because of a love confession on facebook, that triggered a love jealousy rage on other(s).  What causes these 4 people to think this guy deserved torture and death?  I wouldn’t pass it off as insanity as it sounded premeditated, just like a kazillion sad cases.  I would not wish this on anyone, not even sure if I would wish such horrendous human physical suffering on those 4 people, though it sounds like it would be justifiable.

Stories like these, witnessing cruel acts towards another and experiencing infinite situations, shatters my world every time. I start to lose hope that nice really people exist, which is not good, then I start thinking that all the nice people around me will eventually hurt me in the end.  An invisible dark cloud hovers over me, I become afraid, distraught, then withdraw myself from people, keeping a distance, and putting up a great wall.  It’s easier that way, well, the easy way out, though obviously, I shouldn’t believe that because everyone will feel hurt by my distrust.  That is no way to live.  The other day, I wondered, if there is a word for phobia of mean people?

There are even mean people present who pick on me and others. After the 1st few times I stood up for myself, I choose not to react nor feel I need to confront, as it is their choice to dispose their time.  Like I said, being friends does not always work, and in that case, we need to remove ourselves from the situation and hope over time that our messages do reach them someday, that they’d stop hurting people.

So why do humans have to be so mean to each other?  All the picking, the fighting, the drama, the hurt.  Can we just let others live, be, in peace?  How can we put an end to this all?  I try to put it into another context.. What if you had 24 hours left to live?  What would you spend it on.. making someone else miserable or doing something that makes you happy for yourself or for others?  When your time is up, what would you want to be remembered for?  Realistically, we don’t know when our last 24 hours are going to be, and I would rather spend it on something better to do like making a difference.  Cheesy but I want to give people reasons to live, not die…

People are people so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?”  “Can’t understand, what makes a man (Why should it be?) hate another man.. Can’t we understand?” -Depeche Mode

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