Tuesday, June 4, 2013

People are mean

Bear with me here. This is not a rant or a "mean people suck" diatribe.

But people are mean. Even when we're not mean spirited, we're mean.

We unknowingly say things that tear at the raw emotions of people who are struggling, and then walk away oblivious to what we've done.

And we knowingly say cutting things when we feel threatened - as if jabbing at a weak spot in someone bigger, stronger, better will make us bigger, stronger, better, too.
I know people who will say that actions must be intentional to be mean, that an unintentional slight is unfortunate and embarrassing but not really mean.

And I know people who will say that the self-preservational things we say and do when we feel threatened cannot be considered mean. They're the visceral reactions of a cornered animal, not mean.

But I call it mean. Unavoidably mean.

Why are we mean? We're mean because we're broken. It's as simple as that. And it's neither defeatist nor pessimistic to accept the unavoidable capacity for meanness that is the broken human race.

In fact, it's easier to be empathetic when you can accept that we're all in the same broken boat, each of us doing the best we can in the moment. Empathy enables forgiveness. And forgiveness offsets meanness. 

Too many people get caught in an endless loop of trying to fix what's cosmically broken rather than acknowledging that brokenness cannot be easily fixed. Why not reach into your stockpile of empathy to find the power to forgive the people who've been mean to you?

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