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  • A lot of evil is done in the world by people  

  • who can't imagine that they  have any power to hurt anyone.  

  • It's their sense that nothing is at stake in their  behaviour towards others that leads them to ignore  

  • the rules of politeness and humanity - and to  kick people as if they were plated in armour.

  • They are - in this respectpaying homage to childhood.  

  • Think of the situation of a young child, of  perhaps six, who has fun mocking a parent's  

  • double chin or the wrinkles around their eyesTo this child, the parent is still, in many ways,  

  • an invulnerable deity. They live in  a remote, impressive world of work,  

  • credit cards, driving and the news. How could  someone of such stature be hurt by a comment  

  • about their less than perfect physique by  a tiny person who can't spell properly?

  • But the child is missing the point. Their  words do hurt. They can make their parents cry  

  • (in private). The child simply can't grasp how  desperate and anxious their parent might be,  

  • how every morning they might stare in dismay  into the bathroom mirror at the visible signs  

  • of ageing that speak to them relentlessly ofwrongly lived-life. The parent, out of dignified  

  • generosity, has shielded their child from their  own fragility. And now their child is paying  

  • them a beautiful if misguided, compliment:  a belief that they are beyond suffering.

  • Something related may happen when employees get  together to gossip about the person they work for.  

  • In their imagination, the boss is so far above  them that it couldn't possibly matter what they  

  • say about them. It's only when they themselves  move to senior positions that they start to  

  • realise how vulnerable the person in charge might  feel, how completely normal it is to want to be  

  • liked (even if you have a seat on the boardand how imperfect your self-esteem might be.

  • This idea casts a useful light on the activity  of particularly dangerous people online.  

  • Their venom isn't the expression  of a feeling of power.  

  • Rather, the troll tends to feel like a medieval  vagabond outside a heavily fortified city,  

  • hurling insults and threats at what  they take to be comfortable inhabitants  

  • sleeping behind meters of stone walls lined  by vigilant troops. They want to hurt,  

  • but they don't in any way actually imagine they  can; that is what renders them quite so vicious.

  • True kindness may require us to take  on board a very unfamiliar idea:  

  • however young we are, however  forgotten and ignored we feel we are,  

  • we have a power to cause other people serious  damage. It isn't because we aren't wealthy or  

  • revered in elite circles that we thereby losecapacity either to comfort or to wound strangers.  

  • We become properly moral, and properly adult, when  we understand that we may all, whoever we may be,  

  • ruin someone's day, and on occasion, throughfew incautious and misplaced words, their life.

A lot of evil is done in the world by people  

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How You Could Ruin Someone's Day or Life

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    Summer posted on 2021/09/08
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