Why are people so cruel?


Why are people so cruel? Why do they say and do hurtful things with no regard for another's pain?

The motives for harming others are complicated, but as Christians we have a sacred duty to treat others with kindness and respect. Cruelty is a trait that was absent from the life of Jesus Christ. He was consistently kind and compassionate. Why was that?

Jesus valued people as human beings with feelings and needs. He did not treat them as numbers or stereotypes. His harshest criticisms were directed to Pharisees and religious leaders who bullied others. Jesus recognized that power can be a tool for good or a weapon for evil.

As single Christians, you and I depend on the leading of the Holy Spirit to make us more considerate of others. When we are being belittled, the love of God gives us courage to stand tall.

This issue is important for single Christians. Let's take a closer look.

Why are people so cruel? Dehumanization


Every society has its scapegoats, groups of people who are blamed for major problems. Labeling and stereotyping dehumanizes people, making it easier to persecute them. No longer are they seen as individuals with dreams, hopes, feelings and morals like us, but as threats to our way of life.

Ruthlessly ambitious people view others as tools to help them climb the ladder. Either they see them as a rung that can boost them higher or an obstacle in their way. Regardless, they step on others to get to the top.

We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of letting others dictate how we treat other people. Our beliefs should not come from TV commentators or politicians but from the pages of the Bible.

You and I may be tempted to go along with the group we favor, but God gave us a mind so we can discern when we're being manipulated for someone else's goals.

We've seen too many examples of scapegoating in history. You should be able to recognize it and not become a part of it.

'Hurt people hurt people'

It may be a cliche that "Hurting people hurt other people," yet that adage has been around so long because it's true.

People who have been emotionally or physically abused in the past sometimes lash out at others. Their wounds have not healed so they walk around with a chip on their shoulder. Because no one treated them with compassion, they don't know how to express it in their own life. Instead, they give what they got.


Pain can be passed on from one generation to the next. Millions of people harbor great resentment. They're like ticking time bombs, and the right combination of circumstances can set them off. Sometimes it results in a harsh remark. Other times it's a mass shooting.

Unbelievers may not have the gift of mercy. Too often their philosophy is "an eye for an eye," a misuse of the Bible to justify selfish revenge.

There's no question the world has become ruder. Genuine courtesy is a rare thing today. For a person with an aggrieved attitude, minor slights become cumulative. They can't overlook even unintentional snubs.

Bullies are everywhere

No doubt you've had to deal with a bully in the workplace or on social media. Power goes to their head and they enjoy humiliating people. Bullies enjoy inflicting emotional pain and are skilled at putting others down.

We can't know what's going on inside their head. When we're the victim, our reaction is shock, shame, and anger at feeling helpless. I've been there, and I know you have too.

Turning the other cheek and simply enduring bullying in silence seldom solves the problem. It only encourages the bully.

Sometimes, if you're supporting a family, you have to stay where you are and learn to put up with bullying from a boss. That's what my Dad did, but he somehow mastered the art of leaving workplace problems there before he got home. That takes a lot of willpower to control your thoughts.

That's the why; what about the how?

We've only scratched the surface of what motivates people to do nasty things. Entire books have been written on this topic, so we can't cover all the causes in this short article.

So how should we respond when we're the victim of cruelty?


First, it's often a mistake to respond immediately. A snap reply, blurted out without thinking of the consequences can make the situation worse. Resist the temptation to talk back. Don't let yourself become a door mat, but also don't give the other person the argument they're hoping for.

Second, we may never know the reason why a person insults others, and even if we did, it probably wouldn't change that person. The point is that their attack may not be personal at all. You simply may be the handiest target.

Third, when it's convenient, blow off some steam. Some people run or jog. Some go to the gym for a vigorous workout. A brisk walk can be a good idea. The theory is your surge of adrenaline should be used for good. You may not be able to do something physical immediately after the confrontation, but don't overlook this important tactic.

Fourth, after you've had a chance to calm down, try to see if there was some constructive criticism buried under that dig. Changing your performance to address disapproval may prevent future barbs. Some people are incapable of expressing criticism in a sensitive way. Allow for that possibility.

Fifth, never lose sight of where your self-esteem comes from. You are worthwhile because you are loved by God. That will never change. No one can accuse you of anything to break that relationship. Your value comes not from your performance (although we should all give our job our best effort), not from your looks, not from your education, and not from what you own. You are valuable because God chose you to be in his family. Insults and slights may temporarily knock you off guard, but they cannot lessen your core worth. God himself finds you lovable.

When we are verbally attacked, we don't need to stoop to the other person's level or cringe in shame. The stronger our faith in God, the better we're able to maintain our composure and move past the incident.

NOTE: No one should tolerate physical or sexual abuse in a relationship. Get out or talk with police to make it stop.

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