What would everyone you know say if you were to ask them, Did you ever meet a jerk? Wouldnt they all reply yes? If so, that must mean there are a lot of jerks! Where do they all come from, and why is this an important question? Lets begin by analyzing where jerks come from.
1. MISUNDERSTANDING. Where do jerks come from? Our mind! They dont exist in the real world, only in our imagination. In reality there are no jerks, only people. However, sometimes we incorrectly label a person as a jerk because of a misunderstanding or an inadequate knowledge of the facts.
Lets consider an example. A customer named Mary walks into a store hoping to receive some help. She notices two salespeople a short distance away. The salespeople are laughing and chatting. Although they can see Mary, they do not approach her. After waiting a few minutes, Mary walks up to the salespeople and says angrily, I wanted some service, but I guess youre not interested, so Ill take my business elsewhere. As she storms out of the store, Mary thinks to herself, What a bunch of jerks; theyre getting paid a salary and all theyre doing are chatting and laughing. As Mary leaves, one of the salespeople says to her friend, What a jerk! We shouldnt have to take insults from customers.
Whos the jerk? Is it Mary or the salesperson? Or, are they just people? Well, what Mary didnt know is the salesperson conscientiously asked the previous ten customers, Can I help you? To which nine customers said, No thanks, Im just looking. Also, the last of the ten customers coldly replied, If I need any help, Ill ask for it! So, by the time Mary entered the store, the salesperson avoided approaching her because she didnt want to upset anyone. The characters in the above example are just decent people. Nevertheless, they each assumed the other was a jerk.
2. PROJECTION. As imperfect beings, we have faults. The trouble is we dont like to acknowledge our shortcomings. In fact, we even hide them from our consciousness. Whenever we see someone doing what we dont like about ourselves we become upset. We become angry because their behavior reminds us of our own weaknesses. Psychologists call this projection.
Whenever you call someone a jerk, be thankful because you have just discovered something you dont like about yourself. Take advantage of this discovery to improve yourself. As you continually improve, you will be surprised to find the number of jerks in the world steadily declining!
3. LOW SELF-ESTEEM. Those with low self-esteem believe they are inferior to others. Since they do not believe that they can RAISE themselves to the level of others, they try to LOWER them with put-downs. But every time they belittle people, they are merely revealing their own insecurities. Those who have this problem can learn how to build self-esteem from some of the wonderful books available at a nearby library or bookstore.
4. DEHUMANIZATION. This is the most chilling application of labeling others. To justify our violence, we demonize others. Americans didnt kill Vietnamese people, they killed gooks. Religious fanatics dont kill people, they wipe out evil. Racists dont commit genocide, they cleanse society. Almost all problems of violence stem from judging (labeling) others. A simple act, such as calling someone a jerk, left unchecked, can lead to heinous acts of violence.
If we are to be enlightened human beings, we must remove the cobwebs that obscure our perception. If we force ourselves to experience reality, we will realize there are no jerks, only people. Martin Luther King Jr. realized this when he said, We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
© Chuck Gallozzi
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