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How mean are we


By Shabbir Aariz

Meanness is expressed in a variety of forms, as there are also many ways by which one can change one’s course and deviate from the normal state and the generous virtue. It can be a desire for wealth with insufficient desire to benefit others; or a desire to benefit others suppressed by an excessive to keep whatever wealth one has; or the desire for too much wealth.


This is one aspect of meanness as a personal quality of an individual. Largely it is characterized as a vice of lowness and more precisely a sordidness or moral degradation in plain terms. Some philosophers hold that it is deficiency of giving to or the excess of taking from others which, in my opinion is a kind description of meanness. It is not merely lack of generosity but a telling unkind and nasty behavior.

It is the experience of pleasure, joy and self- satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing troubles, failures or humiliation of another. Rather than feeling or having any sympathy towards someone’s misfortune, meanness evokes joyful feelings and a mean fellow takes pleasure from watching someone fail that are sometimes expressed while generally concealed.
“ Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displeases him and turn away his wrath from him”.

Such people are, undoubtedly, incurably wicked, cruel, destructive and also remorselessness.It, however remains an unmanly vice that sinks the mean rather than rise him in the scale of society and takes him away from the people. To do a right thing at a right time and in the right way, one needs to possess an excellent character as the excellence of character as the way to achieve is finally more important. Mean people—- those who say and do things—- are everywhere. There are mean bosses, co-workers, neighbors and even family members. Most of us have mean flashes that come out in moments of stress. But mean people are different. When they are mean , they want to inflict pain. Mean manipulates others, seeks admiration, unconcerned about the morality of his action, get his way through deceit and lie, also flattery to get one’s way, is callous and insensitive, seeks status and prestige, exploits others toward his own end, is cynical, expects special favors from others and wants others to pay attention to him. This is also seen as Machiavel and undesirable behavior of opportunism.
Never give in to any intimidation tried by a mean person. Being passive will only encourage him and if one is assertive, one can bring his behavior to a stop. There are ways to meet the mean head-on and successfully deal with meanness. There are ways to deal with them. Direct confrontation is a powerful tool. But there are subtler ways. The heart of successful diplomacy is to provide the other party a graceful way to give in. Good manners do not require sainthood and one can politely refuse to be trampled on and, often, that exactly what we should do. By exercising a little wisdom, one can knock even the meanest people off their venomous trajectory. That is something that I have experienced whilea few years back on an assignment in a state department, I was second to my boss in the hierarchy besides a few more colleagues around. All worked within their own sphere including the team leader and apparently without any clash of interest with each other and the boss being only a statutory compulsion. The journey together after a while became bumpy for years ahead. The team leader started a covert operation of getting rid of and engineering the exit of some of the members from the team that included me too. He also succeeded in respect of others and failed in my case for my own strength and support. While I held the ground, I also did some introspection to find out any valid reason rooted in my functions for such a move but there was none which made me more curious to have a grasp of his attitude even by sharing the experience with some who knew him better. It would be naïve of me not to showcase him as a mean person from the inputs that I collected about him. He was an incurably a wicked and cowardly mean. But I was not to take it lying down. This challenge emboldened me to express myself confidently independent in my functioning and without any confrontational attitude. I only pitied him for his shrinking social space and left with hardly any good friend. My belief was reinforced that the tough prosper and mean bosses usually fall by the wayside. With patience and a strategy, one can outlast and overcome mean people wherever one encounters them.
(The author can be contacted at [email protected])