Buddhists believe all of life is suffering.
The First Noble Truth asserts that everybody, everywhere, suffers.
I used to add to my own sorrow, pain and grief. I used to add to the sorrow, pain and grief of those around me.
Part of me enjoyed it. I was small in elementary school: an easy target. I always (intentionally) stood out in high school: an easy target again.
At some point, I realized I didn’t need to lift a finger to hurt anyone. My words were weapons and I had a tongue sharper than a Bowie knife.
I could lash out at friends, family and total strangers. Cutting people down with a quick one-liner was incredibly easy, and I would either make people laugh or inspire fear, which added to my disillusion that I was always in the right.
The allure faded as I went through university because I was searching for meaningful relationships.
I never thought of myself as a bully because I always viewed myself as the underdog.
I know there must be kids who feel the same.
Louis C.K., one of the greatest standup comics alive, went on the talk show Conan at the end of September and talked for nearly five minutes about how cell phones prevent us from feeling emotion.
“Kids are mean and it’s because they’re trying it out,” C.K. said. “They look at a kid and they go ‘you’re fat,’ and then they see the kid’s face scrunch up and they go ‘oh that doesn’t feel good to make a person do that.’“
C.K. said kids have to try being mean. The danger is when kids send insults online or through text messages, they don’t get to see the pain they cause.
Seeing the pain I inflicted on people was crucial in my maturation. Instead of being destructive, I realized I needed to harness my ability to craft sentences and transform it into something constructive.
I was never really a violent person. I’ve never seen violence solve a problem that negotiation couldn’t.
When I first heard of the posts on Facebook about a group of young people beating a dog to death with two-by-fours, I was horrified. Though the case of the dead dog turned out to have a lot of unknown elements, the notion that someone in Moose Jaw could intentionally hurt a pet was unsettling.
I would have great difficulty harming an animal in any situation.
Hurting animals is one of the signs of a sociopath.
Sociopaths are a very small minority in our society, yet people still hurt people all the time — sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.
We don’t need to try hitting someone to know that it will hurt him or her. We don’t need to drive drunk to find out that we can kill people.
There are some things not worth trying, because the stakes are too high.
I care about my wellbeing and the wellbeing of the people in my life.
If Buddhists are right about life being filled with suffering, and I believe they are, then it’s every person’s job to make that suffering as enjoyable as possible for themselves and the people around them.
Follow Austin M. Davis on Twitter @theaustinx.