Opinions Expressed in "Rants," while informed by Catholic doctrine, are merely the opinions of the author.

Mean Girls - Communicating Pain


That guys a jerk! That girls a witch! Those guys are evil! She's so MEAN!!

You ever wonder - how can some people be so mean?

How can they be so hurtful, so lacking in compassion or remorse, so oblivious to the pain they cause to others?

Well, I have a theory - I think its a pretty good one. Its all about communication.

All of us want to be connected to others - we want other people to understand us, and know how we feel, especially when our feelings are pain.

One way of letting people know how bad we feel - is by telling them. "I feel bad"

Or we could write our feelings down, or make a poem, or compose a song, or paint a painting, or for some, smash someone up against the boards on the hockey rink - all ways to express what's going on inside.

Or, for those of us who don't know HOW to do these - we could also let people know how bad we feel - by making THEM feel bad too.

When I was a little kid, I remember I would accidently hurt my brother, while we were playing in the sandbox or something. Having a temper himself as a child, he then wanted me to know how it felt - so he punched me back - only problem was, he hit me a lot harder, because he had to communicate not only his physical pain, but also his frustration, his victimization, his vulnerability, etc. And so I would then want to HIT HIM BACK - and on the cycle went. And eye for an eye, until the whole world is blind.

We aren't always aware that we hurts others so as to communicate our own pain to them - sometimes that transfer of pain is unconscious, but I believe, that's what it is ALWAYS about under the surface.

One of the best demonstrations from recent film that I can think of is from the movie "Mean Girls," particularly the films principle villain, Regina George, portrayed by Rachel McAdams.

Here, Regina connives and backstabs and manipulates and makes everyone both worship her, and revile her, both at the same time. How can she be so mean? we wonder as we are continually awestruck by new and creative displays of spite and vindictiveness as we view the film.

Well, as we watch the movie, we learn that Regina's mom refuses to impose any boundaries on her, choosing instead to USE Regina to fulfill her own desire for popularity and self-esteem. Mom says she LOVES Regina, but not enough to risk her own self image. But Regina, although not conscious of it, wants a mom, and the love SELFLESS love mom's are programmed to give.

As a result, Regina is really ANGRY - and communicates that anger and pain, passive-aggressively, by making everyone else around her feel it too - feel just as powerless, just as unloved, and ultimately, just as angry as she is.

She gets some peace when, at the end of the movie, she learns instead to channel her anger in to field hockey - much more healthy too - and the whole school doesn't need to share her rage either this way.

But the whole time, it was all about Regina communicating her pain.

And for those who are causing pain in the real world - its the same thing - its a message, from them.

Every kid that bullies - is just trying to make others feel their powerlessness.

Every wife that yells at her husband for no reason, every girl that gossips about another girl, every guilt trip inflicted, every bar fight, every assault, every crime, every war - they're all just passing on the pain, from one person to the next to the next, so that others will know how it feels.

And the cycle continues and continues UNTIL - it hits someone like - JESUS, for example, who instead of passing pain on - ABSORBES it instead - that's what the cross is by the way - its Jesus feeling ALL the pain of humanity WITHOUT passing it on - and the cycle then ENDS WITH HIM.

When Jesus tells us to take OUR crosses and follow him, he's telling us to let the PAIN END WITH US, without passing it on - to turn it in to field hockey or poetry or art, to just say "that hurt" without having to fight back - to turn the other cheek - that's how we can participate in Jesus' mission, of ENDING all the pain in the world.