The most toxic plague in the human condition is that of demanding kindness while withholding it.
I watch with morbid curiosity the volumes of memes and quotes shared by many in which we are reminded to treat everyone with kindness because we never know what struggles they are enduring. Yet, those same people are waiting for such kindness to be shown to them before they are willing to share the same with those around them.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Everyone wants to claim victim-hood, but no one wants to accept that they’re oppressors. We all believe that we’re justified in our harsh treatment of others, or in withholding our gentleness from fear of being taken for granted. It’s that same sense of justification that leads us to experience cruelty or callousness at the hands of those we wish would treat us with significance.
But we don’t want to see in ourselves what we despise in others, because we can’t be held responsible for the vile behaviour that we display, because you know, we’re too angelic for that. So it must be because someone else made us that way.
This life is replete with people demanding justice but denying the rights of those around them. People crying for compassion while treating with contempt those who hold them to a higher standard. People who remind others of what kindness looks like, while treating harshly anyone who disagrees with them or calls them out for their double standards.
Life takes on burdensome tones and vapid outcomes when we try to live by a code that is not shared by those we hold dear. My idealism dictates that we must remain true to ourselves or else we risk becoming the very contaminant that leaves us feeling used and discarded. But idealism has exhausted my soul more than any other investment of myself in the lives of others.
Idealism is what courts with madness when my ideals are seen as naive or foolish in the face of the disappearing humanness around me. My madness, however, has never been a cause for the concern of another. When it rears its head, I am quickly discarded. When it is tamed, I am superficially celebrated.
It’s that superficiality that grates away at my reserves. The very fragile reserves that I have to pull me through another tiresome day lacking in warmth, understanding, or even a mildly sincere embrace.
Window shopping rarely reveals the reality of the purchase. We dress ourselves up to appear as wholesome or as nonchalant as we’d have others believe we are, until they reach in to touch the essence that lies beneath that window dressing, not realising that what they caress beneath that facade is in fact the rawness of our self-loathing.
It’s that self-loathing that is revealed in our harsh treatment of others. Our cold, callous ways towards those who would draw us closer out of love, not realising the we don’t know how to return such love. Rather than appear incompetent or lacking, we strike at them with feigned confidence and a dispassionate smile, subtly telling them to get lost while smiling sweetly as if to promise them a beautiful trip when they decide to undertake that journey. That journey of leaving us alone.
What self-loathing doesn’t do is it doesn’t allow us the space to realise that when we despise in ourselves what others admire, we don’t only reject ourselves, we invalidate their love for us as well. And that invalidation leaves them questioning their worth, spawning within them the same self-loathing that we hold within. Thus, paying forward a harshness while reminding the world to treat us with kindness.
The hypocrisy of self-loathing is a source of destruction that will forever be ignored, because our pity for our pathetic condition will forever convince us that the courage it took for another to see in us what no one saw in them is merely their misplaced investment in something that doesn’t exist. Perhaps it’s just their need to convince someone to see in them what they need to have seen.
It’s a circle-jerk of epic proportions. And those who break that circle are ridiculed in moments of ease, but desperately sought out in moments of pain. And as soon as the pain passes, that misplaced confidence once more convinces us that they’re just reading too much into everything, or that they just don’t know how to have fun. Or they’re among those who take life too seriously.
At least that’s what the delusional tell themselves in their efforts to justify their abdication of the responsibility that they have in destroying the self-esteem of those who once loved them. The world is lacking in compassion and understanding because of our self-loathing, not because of the cruelty of a few.
As I’ve said before, the less human we feel, the more inhumane we behave. Those who view themselves with contempt have caused more pain than any other I’ve ever observed.