Stand Against Meanness

My wife, foster son, and I were spending time with some old friends at Downtown Disney, when towards the end of the visit they were having a very hard parenting moment in a public space. Something which we can sympathize with. After we said goodbye and parted ways, we passed two women – one who appeared to be in her 50’s and her daughter who appeared to be in her late 20’s. My wife and I overheard them laughing at our friends and making fun of them. The older woman said laughingly she wanted to videotape them and post them on YouTube. I looked at them with appall. My wife said to them, “No, you will not videotape them. That’s not nice.” Older woman: “What do you care?” My wife: “They’re our friends.” I said, “They are having a hard time. Leave them alone,” trying to draw out some compassion from her. The older woman said, “You should mind your own business.” My wife: “You should mind your own business and leave them alone.” Older woman: “I was talking to her [referring to her daughter], so you shut up!” Me: “We will NOT shut up. You should mind your own business and not talk about to videotaping people to post on YouTube when they are having a hard time.” The daughter had the better sense by calling to her mom to basically stop. We walked away as the older woman said some more unkind things to us and disappeared into a store.

As my wife, our sleeping foster son, and I were leaving the park area on the tram, I processed over the audacity of that incident, being awakened to the very reality of meanness. I know meanness exists. I hear about mean incidences. I see meanness. And then I collide into outright meanness, and it brings that reality to the forefront of my mind that there really are mean people in our world. While on that tram I started to think that some people I’ve encountered are mean because they live under the universal premise that this is a dog-eat-dog world and so you have to be mean to get anywhere. Otherwise, you’ll be trampled on. Meanness for them became a mechanism for survival, at least in their minds. Any kind of meanness is not okay, but then I realized the meanness I encountered was something else. There are people who find it funny that you’re struggling or hurting, and they will make fun of you for it. They are amused by your suffering and will think to embarrass you for it because it’s humorous to them. They’re bullies. They laugh at others who are having a hard time and tease and demean them publicly, if they could. All of this is enjoyable to them. And I realized there’s another word for this kind of meanness: evil. It’s pure evil to take pleasure in others’ pain or suffering, no matter what. You may disagree, you may have different points of view, or you may have different beliefs and philosophies on things, but no one should ever take pleasure in other people’s pains. It’s not okay. It’s evil. That woman was evil.

I felt the need to write this blog, because we need to take a stand against meanness and evil. Against bullies. Against people who take pleasure in others’ pains. I want as many people as possible to read this. There’s a need to speak out against the injustice of laughing at others or making fun of others for having a hard time in life. The stand against injustice is not out of hate towards those who are unjust, but out of compassion and care for those who are targeted. The prime motivation must be the latter. If it’s the former, then we ourselves run the risk of becoming mean like those we stand against. That doesn’t help the world. I wish I said more to the woman. I’m a slow processor by nature, which at times works to my disadvantage. At the same time, I’m glad I didn’t say all that I would’ve said that occurred in my mind later to not become like her. A mature, responsible, compassionate, and just stance for others is needed. I invite your thoughts and feedback on this subject.

4 thoughts on “Stand Against Meanness

  1. I couldn’t agree more…and I, too, am also a slow processor in these uncomfortable situations… mostly, due to the fact that I am appalled at these very moments and not even sure what to say! Sadly, it’s so vastly rampant in our DAILY lives. People we are related to, work with, “commune” with and associate with. It’s not even an area that can be categorized…(kids, the poor, the rich, race, profession, education, etc, etc….)…it’s varied on all levels.

    Sadly, the “act” of respect is slipping away. And it’s not even the younger generation…it’s those that have been here and have lived……well, long enough to know better! So sad to say that so many people have little respect for themselves….it’s something that surely comes from within. It has to be taught, enforced and felt to become a part of who we are. I believe everything is based on one’s life experiences. Sadly, with broken homes, drugs, violence, social media and lack of moral compass, in general…this is just a portion of what we are forced to face. Society needs to stick together as a whole and regroup. I believe it is happening, it’s just not blatently present. Schools are providing all types of programs we never had (or needed?) growing up. There are programs about drugs, bullying, social media, sex education, etc….and the children are learning from the time they step through the door on the first day of school. We are broken, very broken…but there is Hope, keep the Faith!
    I’m sorry you and your friends were made to feel belittled by some obvioulsy very troubled woman and a younger daughter, who sounds like she may be an apple, who at least fell a little further from the tree. But, out of the thousands of people who visit Disney each day…don’t let these two take away the fun you had. You are stronger because of it…and now your friends will be too.

    In closing, I get bullied every day by this girl I work with. Sadly, her father owns part of the company and my hands are tied with being able to address it. But, I am 42 and she is 31, so I have lived long enough to know that one day…her sense of “entitlement” will wear off, Daddy will pass (as we all will) and she will be left to stand on her own two feet. Sometimes it takes an ill-experience in people’s lives to wake them up….not that I wish anything negative on anyone, but we all know the negatives are everlasting and have a way of changing, even the coldest of souls.
    To deal with it, I have several quotes inside my desk drawer to refer to when I “allow” her to get under my skin…my favorite being this, written by FB/Sue Fitzmaurice:

    “The best response to rudeness, is no response. When people are rude, they reveal their own character, not yours. Don’t take it personally.”

    Hang in there. Together we can lift each other up, teach our children well, and applaud those who are doing the same.

    ***I always look forward to your posts and can appreciate the things you experience/d, and the things your friends just did, too. My husband and I are raising my great nephew. We have had him since he was 14 months old, and he just turned 4 in July. We have full custody, though his parents rights have not been terminated….but seriously, I don’t see him going anywhere, any time soon, as they continue to travel the same destructive lifestyles. Our little man is a witty little guy and will test the limits to the max. Fortunately, there are no underlying physical/mental issues thus far…..but we have also removed his little naughty heiny out of crowded spaces. And truthfully, could see myself getting into a confrontation with a very similar nosey-nellie. You aren’t alone. These folks inspire us to build up others.
    ~~~ We will thank them, in the end.

    1. Thanks for this thoughtful and in depth response, Candy. We’re both of roughly the same age. I’m 40. It was really disturbing to see a woman whom I guessed was about 15 years older than me (maybe 20 years), a grown woman with a grown daughter with her, acting the way she did. I can postulate on how the culture of the younger generation is losing the value and meaning of respect for others, not granting others the dignity that we all rightly deserve as people. But then I see this woman with her daughter and I see the value of respect being lost at an older generation, and then teaching it to the younger. That was disturbing to me. What pain was there in her life that would render her to be such an ugly person? Thanks for the dialogue.

      1. Jealousy and anger at her own failures as a parent. Obviously. Well, the good news is……there were thousands of other people there on the same day, just trying to enjoy their Disney Memories, just as you were. Keep smiling and shining….and we will both teach our children to do the same…’s a win-win strategy against “the uglies!” 🙂

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