I wrote this article to convince myself (and others like myself), who have often been on the receiving end of hurts, mostly emotional, from people whom I have known through the years (who may or may not be my friends) that there are definitely reasons or nuances of sound logic why people hurt others, deliberately or not. Call it my way of putting things into perspective, to know where people are coming from, to discern what prompts them into doing something offensive to a fellow human being, to understand them, and finally, to forgive them. After much contemplation, I came up with five reasons why people tend to hurt (physically or otherwise) others: they do it for kicks, they do it for vengeance, they get manipulated to do it, they don’t actually know they’re hurting others, and lastly, because others allow them to do the hurting.
Some people hurt others for kicks. Really, there are people who experience a sense of euphoria when they inflict pain on others; they derive pleasure from other people’s sufferings. I’m just about finished with Arlene J. Chai’s book, Eating Fire and Drinking Water. A certain character in that book caught my attention; his name is Aure, a military colonel tasked with quelling terrorism in the South (Note: South here refers to the terrorist-infected southern part of the Philippines). This Aure is a man that belied his calm demeanor, for underneath the mask is an animal that unleashes his claws to torment his victims with the most horrid things imaginable (cutting a flesh here, scooping an eyeball there). And this he does in the full feeling and seeing of his preys; they are being mutilated alive. What can I say to such people? None. No one can change their convoluted minds, so I wouldn’t even try.
Some people maliciously hurt others as an act of vengeance. This, I think, is the most logical reason behind the need to cause others to suffer – to get even for some reasons, real or imagined. I hope that people who wreaked physical or emotional wounds on others have found a valid reason to do so and not do the hurting solely on the basis of some made-up thoughts or impressions concocted by malicious minds; otherwise, the premeditated “hurting” only becomes a channel for venting one’s hang-ups or grudges on the wrong party. To those who say, “Vengeance is mine,” you can learn a thing or two from Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi when he says, “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.” Don’t harbor ill will, throw it out. You’re better off without any excess baggage. Go light. Be happy.
Some people get manipulated to hurt others. People come in different shapes and sizes. There are the “dictator” types who think that they own people and that they could impose on them. Trailing behind are the “puppets” who seem to have no mind of their own, allowing others to decide for them, never questioning the dictator’s intentions. To those who dictate upon others, may you be filled with enough cunning so that those you dictate upon won’t be able to discern the real score, because if they do, you might one day end up all by your lonesome selves. And to the puppets, wake up, you’re human beings with free reins on your thoughts and actions. Must you totally abandon the dictates of your own conscience just to give in to another person’s every whim, however absurd? Remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others what you want others do unto you.” I suppose you don’t want to be hurt yourself.
Some people are oblivious to the fact that they’re hurting others. Call it lack of sensitivity, if you must, but some people can be tactless sometimes they hurt others without really meaning to. The hurting may come in the form of a seemingly trivial comment, a broken promise, a missed appointment, even simple acts of courtesy that might have been overlooked for whatever reason. Enemies can hurt you, but sometimes friends and loved ones can hurt you more. Why? Because you love them, that’s why. And you expect much from them. What do I say to those who don’t know they’re hurting others? Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes; never assume that the other person always understands. S/he may be in one of those wake-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed days or may be particularly feeling down and out, you may be rubbing salt to her/his wounds, making it all the more unbearable. For whatever it’s worth, learn to patch up your differences. It won’t hurt to say, “I’m sorry.”
Some people allow others to hurt them. Though it’s hard to admit, we’re sometimes responsible for how people treat us. In order to live harmoniously with others, we sometimes willingly give in and allow others to have their way, letting stale comments and little acts of discourtesy pass, without so much as giving a thought to them. Unfortunately, the very act of giving and understanding and making lame excuses for how others behave (or misbehave) toward us sends the wrong signal – that they (the misbehaving crowd) can get away with everything, and again, because we seem to be okay with what they do; it doesn’t seem to annoy us one bit, although the truth of the matter is, we’re fuming mad we’re just not showing it. We bear all of the other party’s blows up to the point where we can bear no more. Sooner or later, we’ll explode and there’s no turning back on angry words thrown at each other, forever burning the bridges that had once been witness to good relationships. How do we guard ourselves then from getting hurt? Learn not to be nice all the time; you’re prone to abuse. Give the other party a piece of your mind and heart; don’t let others trample on your pride and dignity, because in the end that’s what you will have left.
The acts of hurting and getting hurt are but parcels of our human existence. Each of us inevitably gets hurt one way or the other, and there’s no escaping that stark reality. We invariably cause other people’s pains and sufferings, too, by mere thoughts, words, or actions, however we deny it. Whether the hurting was done just for kicks or vengeance, out of sheer manipulation or mere insensitivity, or because there are willing victims, it’s not really the beatings we received that matter but how we deal with those hurts. We can accept each whack in the back nonchalantly or make our indignations heard. We can own up to our faults – if we’re to be honest about it – that we deserve what we’re getting or we can justify our ill treatment of others. Whatever – different folks, different strokes. The morale of the story is: No matter how harshly others treat us, we must not lose sight of what it’s like to live without resentment in our hearts. We may not always forget, but we can always forgive those who have wronged us. Continue to believe that there’s an inherent good in all of us, that there’s no such thing as people born bad, and that there’s still hope for humanity.