Mean People Suck
I’ve never been easy with people. To this day, I shy away from groups and become a wallflower - or judging by my middle-age looks, a wall-weed. Perhaps this is because for the first half of my life the people closest to me were unkind. I learned a great deal from them, but not the lessons they thought they were teaching. What I learned from growing up the youngest in a small yet ruthless family is twofold: Family Means Support and, It Pays to Be Kind.Without the benefit of mutual support, what we call a family is just a group of genetically related people. It is not a family. The two people I have called “brother” in my life weren’t blood relatives at all, but men to whom I could turn to in need, and who could and did turn to me. Like brothers, we did our own things, build our own lives and went our own ways confident in knowing that - if needed - support was just a phone call away.
Being nice to others benefits the self. If someone has a history of taking the time to help others in even small ways, they will get help in return. People want to help kind people. It makes them feel good about themselves. This seems obvious to me, but how often do we forget? Self esteem is directly affected by how others view us. Or more accurately, by how we view ourselves through the mirror of another’s viewpoint.
Conversely - as we all know - Mean People Suck. Meanness comes from anger, low self esteem, hatred, and paranoia. It comes from fear. Mean people are unhappy. Mean people, to a large degree, think only of themselves. Again, I state the obvious, but have we ever attended to this in our own lives? Dare you ask how this applies to you?
In my own case, coming as I did from meanness and self-absorption, I knew no other way to live. I was consumed by a diffuse anger and a malaise of frustrated discontent. I was, in short, the perfect American youth: Bitter, angry, jaded - a product of my upbringing (or should I say upbraiding). As a result of my mind set, I did and said things that perpetuated my angst. I was outwardly belligerent, I lied and stole and looked for ways to cheat people. I took drugs and couldn’t imagine life without them. I lived a vicious cycle of self loathing and impending immolation; a textbook example of self-induced, perpetuating misery.
I now believe, as I watch humanity interact, that most people are sharing this self-induced misery of the American lifestyle. I call it American by way of convenient, it is in no way confined to our country or continent. It really comes from any society that embraces materialism at its core. We’ve spent our lives ingesting a mild poison of subversive thoughts in our entertainment, ideas that enforce an attitude of selfishness which undermines our familial support mechanism and our innate openness of heart. A few examples:
- Show me the money.
- What’s in it for me?
- Lookin’ out for Number One.
- Take the money and run.
- Feel lucky, Punk?
- In your grill.
- Stifle Yourself!
Countless other examples exist. We could make a game of it! Such messages of “me-first-isms” counteract a truism of life that is fundamental to our mental well being: “I” am not the Center of the Universe. To focus on self is to forfeit a huge chunk of what living is. In fact the concept we call “I” doesn’t really exist as we think it does, but that thought is for a future article.
Alongside the me-speak is the shouting commercial establishment that seems to pervade our very existence. Commerce is everywhere, millions of companies compete for our limited attention in a virtual Marketplace of Life. The individual messages are irrelevant, but the underlying theses of marketing does much to stoke our angst and undermine our sagging self images.
To fuel commercial markets, an illusion of need must be maintained. In the profusion of today’s marketing barrage, the constant subliminal reminders that we are somehow lacking works into our heads to lower our self image which acts to anger us. Without understanding why, we begin to have resentful thoughts about our lifestyle, our work load and many other facets of modern industrial life. This all-encompassing resentment quickly flares into anger at the slightest provocation, thus completing our transition from rational humans to raging commuters, pushy shoppers, screaming parents, or a plethora of other expressions of our discontent.
But this is all illusion, folks. We do not need the new Gimcrack 4001 to enliven our lives. To risk another cliche, we must learn to want what we have. And what we have is the ability to raise ourselves from the marketing miasma of enforced need through applying our lives to another person.
We have what we need to love and be loved, to partake of a feedback loop of mutual kindness and support. Self-absorbed people invariably are unhappy. Happiness is what we all seek, what the incessant marketing noise promise to us but can’t deliver. Happiness is what we knew as children when our parents comprised our world and loving them and being loved in return was all existence. As adults, recreating this is difficult - but not impossible: Have children and give all of yourself to them, your time, your precious money, your love. Center your life on someone else for a change. On child is enough, one spouse is enough, one life is enough to find what we all seek
Perhaps you think these warm, fuzzy words are a bit overworked, a bit cloying. Perhaps you’re scoffing at the sentiment. Then again, perhaps you need support more than you know.Continuing the emergent series of “The Ills of Modern Life.”