Why Do We Treat Each Other With Such Disrespect?

There are some who believe that the world is exactly as it is meant to be and that we are learning important lessons by having challenging difficulties to contend with, or that there is a preordained plan bigger than anything any one of us could know. Perhaps all of the above is true, perhaps not.

Whatever the situation, life on our planet does not always seem so divinely planned. Obviously, we experience times of great joy, wonder, laughter, and beauty. We are social creatures and many, if not all, of these good times are due to our relationships and especially to shared love.

But there are also many times when we are not so nice, when we treat each other in ways that belie our sociability. We are attacked for being of a different race or color, women and children are raped and abused, we turn away from helping a stranger for fear of those around us, and huge numbers are starving and homeless.

“I am a Jew and you are not, meaning that as children, we were only allowed to relate to people who were like us,” recalls Ed. “I wasn’t allowed to bring a friend home or to eat in his home if he was not Jewish. I was taught to fear anyone who was different.”

Despite such disregard for each other and ingrained prejudice, and even with the injurious capacity of modern warfare methods, if we look back in time we may be surprised to find that we are actually better behaved and nicer to each other now than we ever were in the past, when we were far more barbaric and disrespectful.

“Throughout history, the human experience has been extremely brutal,” says Andrew Cohen in Be The Change. “For instance, if we were living at the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe and someone broke the law, then their genitals may be cut off or they would be disemboweled. At the time Shakespeare was writing his plays, people’s heads were being stuffed on pikes in order to keep the populace in line. In Roman times, a common entertainment was to watch people be eaten alive by lions. So, despite unspeakable and horrible atrocities in our current era, we are actually becoming more civilized.”

However, as reassuring as it may be that we are kinder to each other now than we used to be, it would seem that some further evolution is needed in order for us to overcome our aversion so we can appreciate and care for each other on a regular basis.

So what is the continuing cause of our disrespect for each other? What is it that creates so much isolation, loneliness, and separation, where we see others who are different from us as the enemy? Why do we treat each other with such disregard and dislike? Is it because we project our hidden fears onto others, making them the problem that needs to be annihilated rather than seeing that the phobia and intolerance actually lie within ourselves?

Mindfulness meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn believes, “We have to learn how to put out the welcome mat for our own shadow side, because when we suppress it, we project it onto others and we get the us-and-them syndrome: We are right and they are not, so let’s kill them before they kill us.”

This is important, for as much as we have fought the “other” in order to eliminate the enemy or to ensure our own survival, we are now moving into a time where such fighting is actually becoming detrimental to the continued existence of our entire species and is adding to our demise. For us to successfully overcome many of the issues we are facing, whether social, environmental, or global, we urgently need to resolve our own prejudices and to work together, rather than against each other.

“It seems to me that we are on the brink of an evolutionary leap and that what we are calling the human condition is something that has become outmoded,” writes spiritual teacher Gangaji in Be the Change. “It seemed quite useful at an earlier time, when we really did have to struggle with each other for a piece of food or territory or some shelter. Maybe it is just wired in us, this me-first attitude, or my tribe first, or my nation first, and the idea of attacking others out of fear that something will be taken from us. But we can actually have a cooperative world where we look to each other, because we all need each other for our survival. Before, we needed to overcome each other in order to guarantee our survival; now we need to discover an entirely new way of relating, and we actually need each other to do this.”

What do you think? Do comment below.

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Tonya Freeman
Tonya Freeman7 years ago

In my wide circle of friends, I am hearing over and over again, that we are evolving, we are shifting in consciousness, we are becoming more compassionate, loving and awakened. This sounds and feels good to me.

Hester Goedhart
Eternal G7 years ago

Reflection of our Western "civilisation" i.e. what comes around goes around OVERPOPULATION!

Drew H.
Drew H.7 years ago

I think if we could have a view of the planet by looking at it from a distance, say outspace, I think that would be an advantage to those who want to learn more.
Even better, we could see ourselves in the universe- that endless space, and wonder.
There is nothing that is separated from us, however, most people see themselves separated from all this; individuals or egos. I think that is what the whole problem is.

Walter G.
Walter G7 years ago

I have observed that many people will reflect the respect you show to them initially. There are those who don't, they start ranting or worse. most of the time i just continue to be calm and not be drawn into their excitement. Where I live so many people carry guns that it fosters respectful behavior in an of itself.

Sue T.
Susan T7 years ago

I really agree with the idea of this. I am thinking maybe other cultures need to read this. I am respectful of others ... until I am attacked and my response to an attack has nothing to do with disrespect of the other culture, it has to do with survival. quid pro quo, tit for tat, ... I can only control my attitude....my actions stem from my attitude. what does that say about others? who are hateful and mean,? sorry I am rambling...G'nite all and have a very Merry Christmas... ;)

Charles Webb
Charles Webb7 years ago

We are NOT the most inhumane species on the planet. Carnivorous animals kill just for the joy of killing and don't eat any of it. I've seen it myself. We eat what we kill and don't torture our food like animals do. There are exceptions, of course, but it is not the rule.

Karena M.
Doreen Gonzales7 years ago

Upon exiting a distressing relationship, a friend once commented, "I'll just have to love him from a great distance." I was, & still am, impressed with the serenity of her conclusion. Sometimes we don't get along with someone. Always the question is, what is the most beneficial way to proceed upon for the peaceful navigation of human interactions? Ever present are misconceptions, misunderstandings, & consequent misgivings. We simply do not trust that our own good will be served. As pointed out in this article, survival, or fear of being rendered unable to survive, is likely at the root of it. While looking out for Number One seems to be an inborn instinct, none of us is born with the ability to do so peacefully. That ability is also not a singular skill or isolated lesson. Becoming & maintaining a plasticity in mind & in behaviour will assist both us & them to avoid the injury & imminent failure brought by rigidity of closed mindedness. But who will go first, & is it genuine?

Bette M.
Bette M7 years ago

Thank you Camilla!
I used to work with a guy who I couldn't like much less love no matter how hard I tried. He was extremely manipulative, a real Jekal & Hyde. I tried really hard to find something likeable in him but it was just not there.
I eventually walked out on this job because of him.........I believe in you do your thing & I'll do mine.......In peace.

There are seven billion people on this earth. There are people all over Care2 & in society who preach love everyone.

To so call love everyone can not be done. If you think so give it a shot & see what & who is really out there in society.

If I met Charles Manson my gut would tell me to run instead of trying to make a friend out of him & convert his ways way back then in the 60's.............

I listen to my gut & 99% of the time I'm right anout being trusting or to turn away.
Not everyone is worthy of respect.

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life..................

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga7 years ago

so true, well said Bette. there really are too many people on the planet.

Bette M.
Bette M7 years ago

There are just too many of us.......Us greedy, selfish & self absorbed humans.
There is no law which states we must love or like everyone we encounter or come to know.
I just assume to mind my own business & let the world go on its' way.

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life..............