This week we explored how we are sometimes unkind when we are ignorant and cruel when we are indifferent. But when we intentionally do harm, regardless of the reasons, we become the worst versions of ourselves…we become cruelty.
We all are human and all are equal. We all have profound capacity for wonder and reason. We all deserve happiness. We all can create something from nothing. And within all of us is a gift…the power to sense another’s presence, and perceive their feelings. This gift is granted to us by the knowledge that pain and pleasure exist, and we know one makes us feel bad, and the other makes us feel good. With this gift why would we intentionally cause pain for others? I had written…
A value is not just a guide. It is also a tool. A compass directs you to possibly avoid peril, just as your values show you what bad decisions not to make.
We ignore our gift of understanding other’s pain when our values are out of order. Which values? Any…but when we purposely hurt others we lack compassion. And our values can become out of order any number of ways.
Our values are out of order when we are blind. We can’t use our values to guide our judgment because we cannot see them. We are in an evil bliss because our ego is more important than other’s feelings. We become cruel when we strive for a false sense of power driven by our egos (introduced in Winter of Kindness entry #41). When our high confidence demands we are self-serving with ego-driven acts (#9). When selfishness overrides empowerment and we love ourselves into thinking we only matter (#54). Or when our egos out-weigh our empathy to understand how we are all capable of hurt (#44).
Our values are also out of order when we are lost. We can’t understand values when we don’t understand who we are. We have no identity, only a false one…a shadow-self that embraces evil with no empathy. We become cruel when we define ourselves by things and by what people can give us, reacting mercilessly to obtain fulfillment through false validation (introduced in Winter of Kindness entry #50). When we lack conviction and believe we have no purpose (#12). When we self-deprecate and allow our victimhood to infect those around us (#53). When we attack those we love because we lose ourselves in self-loathing feelings (#68). Or when we let our inner demons run wild (#64).
But worst of all our values are out of order when they are broken. We are agents of evil because our North Star is not a bright light, but a black hole. We falsely perceive our world to be a bitter place that demands our misgivings. We justify our malicious behavior with our assumed superior motives, founded on a faulty philosophy, supporting ideologies of vengeance, self-interested justice or mutual destruction. And deception…we thrive on deceiving all around us into believing cruelty is the righteous road to take, using whatever charisma we have to manipulate rational minds into seeing such behavior as not only acceptable, but essential. But most of all, in this jumbled narrative we tell, we deceive ourselves into believing since no light can escape this black hole we call our North Star, if we are consumed by it, we will become brighter than the sun.
We are cruelty when we thrive on excessive greed (introduced in Winter of Kindness entry #30), blur ethical lines (#32), play zero-sum games (#33), or harness the power of community for destruction (#7). We are cruelty when we justify our behavior with moral licensing (#29), become the villains we glorify by swallowing their rhetoric to defend their psychosis (#23), or purposefully become an obstacle on someone’s journey (#22). And, we are cruelty when we are cutthroat leaders (#37) or scoundrels (#67).
Such is the way of being cruel. May we always nurture our values…and never become blind to them, be lost to them or break them.