How did we become so mean?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bullying is in the news a lot lately and it is really getting to me. There have been a slew of teen suicides revolving around gossip, name-calling, backbiting or just plain mean-spiritedness. I am not going to recount any of the numerous stories here, if you listen to the news at all you've heard them. But it is truly beyond me how we have let our nation, our culture, our society, become this warped, ugly, nasty version of ourselves.

And I don't care who's fault it is either, it doesn't matter. Religion, schools, media, parents... doesn't matter. What matters is our dedication to changing away from what we've become. We can make this world what we want it to be. Do we want it to be a world where children as young as eleven feel so alone, hurt and humiliated that suicide is their best answer? I know I don't.

I also know that each and every one of us has to take some responsibility for our own behavior. We (as adults) are supposed to set the example, and I know there are plenty of times where we don't. Why? How did we become so mean? What joy does humiliating others bring us? What kind of happiness does backbiting about our neighbor fulfill? What satisfaction is created by gossiping about our co-workers? Seriously. Don't we know better? Where has our conscience gone? Has it taken some sort of endless break?

If we want to turn the tide on this bullying epidemic then I think it begins with each one of us as an individual. We can't be bystanders anymore. If we care about changing the world it all begins within us, and I think we need to go back to basics, i.e. "the Golden Rule". This is the very foundation of peace and the core of our humanity. We need to rekindle it in our hearts - love and compassion for every living soul - even the bullies - because I promise you they weren't born that way.

Here are some thoughtful quotes on this topic from various world scriptures. And as always, please leave your own quotes and/or thoughts.

"(A true seeker)... must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 264)

"A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit." (King James Bible, Proverbs 15:4)

"O ye who believe! let not one class ridicule another who are perchance better than they; nor let women ridicule other women who are perchance better than they; and do not defame each other, nor call each other bad names-an ill name is iniquity after faith! O ye who believe! carefully avoid suspicion; verily, some suspicion is a sin. And do not play the spy, nor backbite each other; would one of you like to eat his dead brother's flesh?- why! ye would abhor it! then fear God; verily, God is relentant, compassionate." (The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 49 - The Inner Chambers)

"He avoids tale-bearing, and abstains from it. What he has heard here, he does not repeat there, so as to cause dissension there; and what he heard there, he does not repeat here, so as to cause dissension here. Thus he unites those that are divided; and those that are united, he encourages. Concord gladdens him, he delights and rejoices in concord, and it is concord that he spreads by his words.

He avoids harsh language, and abstains from it. He speaks such words as are gentle, soothing to the ear, loving, going to the heart, courteous and dear, and agreeable to many." ((The Eightfold Path), Buddha, the Word (The Eightfold Path))

Beware lest ye harm any soul, or make any heart to sorrow; lest ye wound any man with your words, be he known to you or a stranger, be he friend or foe." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 73)

"Let them purify their sight and behold all humankind as leaves and blossoms and fruits of the tree of being. Let them at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 1)


Brandon Lee Rhodes said...

"I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed." - His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama

Justin Johnson said...

Nice one Brandon, thanks! The Dalai Lama always has a few wise words. Selfishness and greed are a huge part of it for certain. For some reason we feel like we have to put ourselves "above" others and hurting them is one of the ways we try to do it. Sad, but true.

Thanks for stopping by and hope you're doing well.

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