School has just started, and already mean people invade our lives. Each of my kids has come home with a story about being made fun of, bullied, or left out. Even among adults in our community, I see this behavior. It’s more subtle but just as insidious.
We were talking about mean people the other day when my daughter said, “mean people are trees.” Of course, I had to ask what she meant. She went on to explain that trees are easy to ignore, so she thinks of mean people as trees, and ignores them. I LOVE that!
Trees are neutral, neither good nor bad, they just are. They exist. Mean people are the same. Though they are mean, they are often not good or bad; they are hurting. Mean people come from places of fear, insecurity, and doubt. They spring up and exist in the world, throwing shade (see what I did there). But, while most of us grow and explore our world, mean people are stuck, rooted like a tree to the ground, held back by the roots of their meanness.
A tree can’t hurt you because you can avoid it. If it is falling, you move. If it is on the ground, you step over it. Though mean people can hurt us, we still choose whether or not to allow it. Often the best way to avoid being harmed is to avoid the person like we would avoid a falling tree. Let their anger and hurt fall into space, not on you.
Instead of teaching my kids that mean people are dumb, or “just angry people,” I’ll be teaching them that mean people are withering trees. They are best avoided when possible. And, when they can’t be avoided, they are best ignored because they are stuck and decaying, while we are not.