“Mean people are really just sad people. They hurt others because they are hurting. Every person is born beautiful, and much of the ugliness in others was put inside of them by other hurting people.” Bryant McGill, author, social entrepreneur
Many are suffering today from the violence and harm caused by eighteen-year-old shooter Salvador Ramos who killed 21 people yesterday. I was reading media comments by young people who knew him. “He was the nicest kid. The most shyest kid.” “He stuttered; people bullied him.” “He would get bullied hard, liked bullied by a lot of people... bullied over social media, over gaming, over everywhere.”
It appears that Salvador changed over time into an angry, aggressive, young man who cut his own face. Texas governor, Greg Abbott called Ramos “the sheer face of evil.”
Many will be considering how to stop people like Ramos from harming others. I am not sure if as much thought will go into how to be with each other...how to treat someone who is suffering…how to treat ourselves when we are suffering as many are today.
For me, the answer is compassion and self-compassion. Compassion helps us understand what the roots of suffering and aggression may be. What fears, longings, aching wounds, stifled gifts might be at play? How could we tend wounds in others in ways that heal? How can we tend our own wounds in ways that heal rather than perpetuate violence?
One person who knew Ramos said, “What I think he needed was closure with his family and love.” Of course, that makes total sense.
It also makes total sense that we want to harm people who harm us. I am not sure, however, that we can say that all people who harm others do so because they were hurt themselves.
I remember talking to one young man in my son’s class after he became an adult. The man was a bright, happy, well parented child nevertheless, he recounted with remorse, the nasty teasing he engaged in when he was younger. He wished he could take it back.
I imagine all of us, even relatively healthy people, can remember saying things or doing things which hurt others. What were we thinking? I imagine we can also remember things that were said or done to us which hurt.
My granddaughter carries a grudge against her sister for something that was done when her sister was two years old. It’s hard to be compassionate and forgiving to others. One of my granddaughters has said aloud in anger what most of us feel, “I want revenge.” Usually what we think of as fair revenge, is a double dose of whatever we received.
We must find effective ways to work with ourselves to tend our suffering as well as to tend to the suffering of others. For most of us it takes a lot of practice, intention, and attention.
After I heard about the shooting, the first thing that entered my mind were the people I had not checked on lately - people who might be going through some challenges. I thought of three. As it turned out, two were fine, but one neighbor was suffering greatly. He considered it divine intervention that I had touched base with him. My husband and I were honored to be able to sit with him as he processed his pain.
The second thing that entered my mind after hearing the sad news was that scene from the old movie, Billy Madison (played by Adam Sandler). You may recall the movie. It’s about an unmotivated, rich young man who cannot inherit his father’s fortune unless he goes back to school and completes all 12 grades in 24 weeks. In the process he gets verbally abused by the students. It reminds him of his own bad behavior to others. He tracks down one to call and apologize. Here's the clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe04M3uHddY
The clips ends with Billy’s name being crossed off the list of “People to Kill.” That piece of the movie is really the only part I remember. It cemented in my mind the importance of noticing and remembering those I have hurt and… to make amends.
All of us hurt and get hurt. When we get hurt, we want to hurt others. But we can learn to do better. We must. I will continue posting ideas and articles that are intended to help us on the journey. I hope you will share your ideas as well.
Be well, my friends, in the meantime, here’s a little song to help us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnguDXWf9F0 h
How might we journey together to the good life by learning to tend to your own and others’ suffering with compassion rather than seeking revenge.
(as always, hit reply to send me personal comments)