I just read an article by Martha Beck from a 2003 Oprah magazine about why people are mean and it was pretty good. She said that the short answer is: They're hurt. The long answer is: They're really hurt.
She states that “at some point, somebody—their parents, their lovers, Lady Luck—did them dirty. They were crushed. And they're still afraid the pain will never stop, or that it will happen again.” I believe that is correct and also believe that interpreting these events in childhood as attacks against you also prevents the brain from making the correct connections, thereby also producing Manic Depressives, aka Bi Polar, people. By the age of ten, the brain is pretty much hard-wired and you're stuck with what you think.
Why does Martha say these people continue to whine? Because “...trapped in a tale of victimization and helplessness, they feel perfectly justified in venting their anger cruelly, using violence or deceit to feel less vulnerable, and striking at other before they can be struck.”
I find that mean people come in all kinds of wrappings. They may be leaders of nations such as Ben Netanyahu, who has no problem stealing Palestinian land, not having his soldiers be responsible for killing Palestinians and for stating that American people are stupid and must support Israel.
Now, we come upon an interesting observation. Why are Israelis mean? Yes, they tried to bomb the King David Hotel and blame the Egypt but got caught. They bombed the USS Liberty in 1967 in unmarked planes because they didn't want that spy ship knowing they wanted to take the Golan Heights in Syria. Jews brag in their web sites that they know how to 'buy' Palestinian land deceitfully. Do Jews think, as Martha Beck states, that they are “trapped in a tale of victimization and helplessness?”
The author believes that the only way for a mean person to get off the merry-go-round of feeding their own actions is for them to 're-write' their story in a manner which gives them power again asking themselves such questions as, “Do you dwell on vengeance or gratitude? Do difficult people and situations appear as forces who control you or as problems you are busily solving?”
Now, this is all well and good if you believe that mean people can change or see themselves objectively. I think they cannot. So my solution is to protect the person that is being attacked by meanness.
One tactic you can use against a mean person is silence. Just because someone asks you a stupid or hurtful question does NOT mean you must answer it. It does NOT mean you have to go into a litany of reasons why you are not guilty. Just say nothing.
And there is nothing wrong with telling the hurtful person that you are not talking to them again because they have nothing useful to say. This is not mean...it is honest. But make sure you do NOT talk to them again. You are not playing their games. You are taking your marbles and going home.
What do you say to your beautiful granddaughter that has been hurt by cruel and intimidating comments from other girls? You say that she is absolutely correct, that those girls are trying to hurt her but all they are doing is making threats and if she believes them, she will be hurt. You also tell her she is probably too young to understand that the best answer is to not say anything and just turn and walk away...to be the GROWN UP in the situation.
Recognize that sometimes a hurtful remark is also done with words like 'sweetheart' and seems to be concerned for you. Your best instinct is your first reaction to the comment. If you feel hurt or oppressed, don't lose that feeling! Take control.....decide if you want to reply to their meanness or just walk away. Whatever makes you feel better.
As far as mean world leaders go, the only defense you have is to speak the truth about what they are doing, maybe even being brave enough to write a book or a letter to the editor of your newspaper about them.
Mean people are mentally sick and a confident person is usually their target so it is important as a parent that we are fair and kind to our children while they are young. Insulting them or hurting them or not loving them can injure them for life.