Hurting People Hurt People


The politician on the video I was watching on a news website was shouting above the reporter who was trying to follow up on the question she asked.  

I found myself focusing on his demeanor---his battle-ready posture, the fury in his eyes, the way his voice rose, and rose until it roared in the room, taking everyone there aback.   

I added it to the long list of news stories I'd ingested over the last week where people were angrily protesting mask mandates, restrictions on restaurants, bars, church gatherings, and the like. 

It makes you tired to watch this stuff, doesn't it? 

I was reading from a book of poetry by the incredible Irish poet, Brendan Kennelly, and came across this poem that struck me as so appropriate for our times:  

The Loud Men
And how O God shall we learn to cope
With the loud men?
Why do they shout, I  ask myself. 
Because 
Under the noise 
There is nothing. 

Because 
The loud always win attention 
For a while. 

Because 
They are afraid of silence. 
Because 
They proclaim their own emptiness. 
Because 
By spitting in the eyes of others
They run like madmen from themselves. 

Now that's some straight-up truth right there isn't it? It also landed on me a bit for all of the times that I've been one of the "loud" because I was masking my own frailty, my own emptiness.  

I mentioned yesterday in the Daily Devo that we should learn to see others as Jesus sees them---to see through the bluster if you will and try to catch a glimpse of the person underneath it all.  

When we do this, we begin to realize that long before someone begins to shout at us, or wound us with their words (sometimes softly spoken bile can be even more bitter than a shout), they were wounded themselves.  

Pastor Rick Warren famously said, "Hurting people, hurt people."  Having said that, it doesn't make whatever hurtful thing they've said to feel any better, but still... it's important to remember this when you're dealing with someone who is hurtful.  

Fr. Richard Rohr once wrote: 
How you treat yourself is how you will usually treat other people too.  The person who was vindictive to you today has been vindictive in his own mind since early this morning.  She is punitive toward you because she has been punitive toward herself for years—without even knowing it. 
There is enough brokenness to go around in the world around us, and we hold our own fair share of it, to be sure.  Each of us has had our moments when we have been among the "loud," the hurtful, and the verbally abusive.  

And each of us can almost certainly trace our hurtful actions back to our own deep and painful hurts, the things we've been beating ourselves up for, the fears and worries that cause us to lash out.  

When we are able to look at ourselves this way, it ought to give us the grace we need to see others differently as well.  

Granted, there are some hurts and some actions that people inflict on others that cannot be ignored or withstood.  But still, it then gives us the ability to understand them better, and maybe even find the strength to forgive them and release them to God.  

May this be so for you today and every day from this day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  



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