Ruthless People

A kindhearted woman gains respect, but ruthless women gain only wealth.

A kind woman benefits herself, but a cruel woman brings trouble on herself.

Proverbs 11:16-17


If you had to choose between being a multimillionaire without a true friend in the world or a well-respected ambassador loved by many though by no means rich, which would you choose? Wealth or respect? Would you like to go through life knowing that the only people in your life are paid to be there? That no one really likes you? Could you trade that for gobs of money? Maybe for a week, right? When we’re talking about a lifetime however, the vast majority of us would choose respect and love over money with no friends. 


The ruthless woman of our proverb gains only wealth. When she finally gets to a point in life where she can sit back and take stock of her life – all she has to count is money. She can’t think of one pleasant memory not associated with a big payoff; every single person in her little black book is someone with whom she does business. All her plans for future love and happiness have no foundation. She’s not done any of the groundwork for love or happiness. 


How does such a creature come into being anyway? What happened from the time the sweet, innocent baby emerged to create such a heartless person? Ruthless people are not born, their formed. And the same is true for kind people. When life is kind to a child, the child learns kindness. Conversely, a child who knows mostly discomfort and rejection learns to cause pain and reject. The distinction doesn’t have to happen in childhood though. Some people with a fairly normal childhood – a mixture of many positive and negative experiences – can turn ruthless later in life. 


I remember Lisa, a girl in high school who everyone hated – the bottom rung in the social ladder. She had an annoying voice and laugh, a zit face, and a generally whiny disposition. This made her an easy target and she got it from all sides. On one lone occasion that I observed, due to certain circumstances, she was able to temporarily take one step up and switch places with the lowly person just above her on the social ladder. She was actually not the bottom rung – there was someone else everyone despised more than her for a fleeting moment! Having spent so much time on the bottom, I would have thought Lisa would sympathize with the other gal now on the bottom. Instead, she used her one shot at being a higher-up to dish out the same kind of nastiness to which she was always subjected. That really surprised me and from that day on, I had a disdain for Lisa.


With much reflection, I understood that Lisa probably was modeling the only behavior she had ever known from peers. Maybe this was the only system she knew: when on a higher rung – step on the person below. Most people treat others according to how they themselves have been treated. Though there are exceptions a plenty, in general, we can expect that a kind person had kind caregivers and friends, and that a ruthless person was raised by ruthless people and lacked genuine friends.


I’m not trying to explain away the behavior of a ruthless person. I am trying to shed some light on it because, in my opinion, the key to being kind to everyone – and that includes the rude, crude, ruthless and criminal – is compassion. 


God can give you a heart of compassion for anyone and everyone. One quick trick I use to muster compassion for even the most heinous criminals is to think of what their lives must have been like as babies. There are colicky and cranky children, but I’ve never heard of an evil baby. So what went wrong? How did they go from sucking a pacifier to killing kittens and then people? What kind of parents did this person have? If you care to dig, you will find, except perhaps in cases of genetic mental disorder, that a prolonged or intense series of negative experiences forges ruthless behavior. This doesn’t mean a ruthless person is not to blame for who she is. As adults, we must reflect on our upbringing and decide if we want to remain the person that resulted or become something different. Everyone has that choice and though not everyone is capable of a complete life makeover, we can all improve ourselves to some degree.


A kindhearted woman is not just kind to other kind people, children and animals. A kindhearted woman will be kind to ruthless people as well. If you aren’t kind to a ruthless person, how could an onlooker distinguish between you and her? And if you aren’t kind to a ruthless person, who will be? How will she ever get a glimpse of who she might be –should she decide to change?


Hold this thought: Kind people are not born, they’re formed. 


Let Donna know what you think:

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