12.21.18 - "Many Very Fair Circumstances And People Who Are Quite Kind"

Dear Sweet Babe, 

Today I want to talk to you about cruelty.

Cruelty is a nearly universally understood concept. Whenever people gather, there will eventually be found some type of cruelty to visit upon each other. We can find it in the shoving of people out of your way, in ignoring another’s cries for help, in the spanking of a child, in the snigger at the misfortune of others, or the cold shoulder turned to the new student at the lunch table. Cruelty is inevitably going to show up in the interactions between humans.

But why does it? What is it about that cruelty that makes it so prevalent? How can something so widely understood to be terrible end up being so present in all of our lives?

Many people will pass off the frequent presence of cruelty with the dismissive attitudes of “the world is just a cruel place,” or “life’s just not fair.” But, while both of these sentiments can be true, in part, they don’t quite cover the issue of cruelty in a helpful or holistic way. Yes, life is often quite unfair, and many people can be quite cruel, inspiring the idea that all of the world is that way, but these aren’t the whole truth. There are many very fair circumstances and people who are quite kind…

So, perhaps the more appropriate question is: what causes cruelty?

Well, there are many causes. Some people were raised in cruelty, and that is how they see the world working. They believe that their suffering must be a truth for everyone, so they ensure the visitation of suffering upon others. Some people are selfish, and believe that the only way to elevate or advance their agendas is by destroying or blocking the success and happiness of others. They see the world as possessing only a finite amount of success, and they want to make sure that others don’t get that success that they could be achieving. Come just find the small enjoyment of cruelty to be far superior to a greater pain that they are experiencing.

And that is where we find the true cause of cruelty: suffering. 

There is a scientific principle, called the Law of Conservation of Energy, that states that “energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.” This is true with regards to emotional energy as well. If one person is kind or cruel to another that emotional energy is transferred to that person, much in the same way that a pool ball will transfer some of its momentum to another pool ball when they collide. So, when one person is cruel to another, and that person is lead to suffering, they are given the burden of that negative emotional energy to carry around. Whether it be a burden that they’ve been carrying from childhood, from the understanding that they’ve hurt another, or just from an interaction they had a minute ago, when people are cruel it is a service to themselves that they are performing to alleviate some of their negative emotional energy.

Now, your g-ma, when your guncle was younger and when I was feeling hurt by someone else, would tell me to put myself in that person’s shoes. Before I let the emotional energy that they had placed upon me to fester and lead me to cruelty, your g-ma wanted me to think about the other person’s perspective, and understand (as best as I could) why this person was alleviating their own negative emotional energy through cruelty towards me.
And that’s the important part about the Law of Conservation of Energy: energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. Cruelty continues and spreads through the transference of negative emotional energy, but through empathy and care we can change the form of that negative energy. If we take moments to understand how we’ve been hurt by others, and then how we will rise above such negative energy, we can change the form of that energy. We can use such negative energy to fuel our work, or to even fuel a kindness towards someone else. Through the changing of the form of the energy we can fuel our lives (ever wonder why marginalized people make the most diligent creators?).

So, sweet babe, what negative emotional energy will you change into fuel?


Erik SchneiderComment