Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mean


I ask the question all the time. I feel like it is a rhetorical and childish one, but I continue to ask it—of myself and the world. Why are people so mean? I do mean things, but I try hard to mend the damage.

There are people who do not try to mend anything. They instead let it continue. Pain begets pain and the world is full of pain. What does that say about us.

I often speak of forgiveness and its potency. People do not believe me that it can be so powerful. They can continue to believe that to be so, but they cannot escape the logic.


Listen to this (RadioLab)

And read this.

If you want the world to be a better place—the one where people with many disparate ideas live together in harmony—what good would a tit for tat policy do? How does that make the world better? You know the answer, it is always the same. It is a recipe for mutually assured destruction. Our most influential philosophers have all come to the same conclusion, perpetuating violence leads us nowhere.

The war we wage is a personal one. Our rage and pain, while possibly caused by outside forces, is under our control. A sense of injustice and transgression is a matter of pride. That does not mean it is a personal journey to deal with that pain. Rather, we need to deal with the interpersonal. We need to communicate the inner fuel that gives energy to the outer fire. And when we take that energy and instead build with it the fire has nothing to burn. Our rage subsides, channeled into productive outcomes.

If we preach peace, we speak not of the minor harms that hurt the world. We speak openly and honestly. We give back what can only help. And we apologize, seeking forgiveness by our fellow man for our transgressions. There is no other way in the world that can result in real happiness.

And we all know this. We think on it rarely. We agree with it. We don't apply it. And why is that? What do we get out of nursing our wounds? It is pride and anger that holds us back.

And it is only human to do so. At least we say so. I believe that we can be humans that take that truth and turn it into something better—without passing it off as human nature.

Hope that isn't too preachy.