Hurt people hurt people

hurt people hurt people

“Hurt” people hurt people.

Those who have been hurt or broken in life often respond by striking out and hurting or harming the people who are near them.

  • Many abusers are victims of abuse.
  • Many bullies are victims of bullying.
  • These pain patterns get passed on generation after generation.

Elisha is Jeered

… Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they shouted. “Get out of here, baldy!.  He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria. (2 Kings 2:23-25)

The passage from Scripture above forces us to evaluate everything we know about God, and what we know about God will influence everything we know about being human:  sin, Satan, grace, mercy, salvation, heaven, hell, and redemption.

If there is any passage in Scripture that will challenge our consistent understanding of God it is 2 Kings 2.

Here we have the prophet Elisha at the beginning of his ministry.

His mentor, Elijah, has just ascended into heaven in a fiery chariot, but before he ascends, Elijah grants Elisha a double portion of his spirit.

Israel has newly appointed Elisha as Elijah’s successor.

On his journey to Bethel, Elisha performs a miracle, then he is suddenly ambushed by a group of boys who hurl humiliating insults at him. Before the boys could humiliate him any further, Elisha cursed them in the name of the Lord. And on that day, two bears killed 42 of the boys.

Then the prophet, without hesitation, continued his journey.

Elisha’s choice to express himself violently is not a coincidence.

In 1 Kings:19, Elisha first meets Elijah and becomes enamoured of him.

Elijah went up to [Elisha] and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah.

“Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. [Elisha] took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment and gave the cooked food to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. (1 Kings 19:20-21)

It is my interpretation that someone had to teach the young man Elisha how to be mercilessly violent.

Further examination shows that Elisha was born into an environment where indoctrination into a tradition of violence was typical.

So the prophet was a product of his social location, a culture where people automatically tolerated men who acted out in a feral manner, especially if the victims were women and children.

The ancient world normally expects such behaviour from men.

Sadly, these men were never exposed to other options in their lives.

It is reasonable to conclude that you cannot expect someone to give you something they have never received nor to act in a manner they have never witnessed.

Elisha felt disrespected and reacted in the way other men in his social location would have reacted.

He was born into patriarchy, which explains his instinct for feeling disrespected.

Unfortunately, patriarchy has not gone anywhere since antiquity.

Patriarchy as a system does not allow men to express the full range of their emotions, and as a result, men have conditioned themselves to bottle up their feelings.

Often men express themselves either through silence, violence, or indulging in vices and these forms of expression are socially acceptable today.

These false walls of insulation are meant to protect us from hearing “you’re soft,” “man up” and “men don’t cry.”

This defence mechanism is experienced when we screw the top onto our bottled-up hurt, and life begins shaking us.

Before we know it, when we finally open up, we explode.

Consequently, those around us receive the residue from what was in us the entire time.

I believe the tragic first passage of scripture serves as a prophetic message to us that there are consequences when we do not do the necessary heart work.

Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation.

Break the chain today.

Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness.

Greet grimaces with smiles.

Forgive and forget about finding fault.

Love is the weapon of the future. (Tweet from Yehuda Berg, August 22, 2013).

At this moment, when our own pride, image, or feelings come under attack, we have a choice: we can retaliate like the world or, we can look up for help. Prepare Love Praise (R) Ministries NFP.

From Jeremiah’s message to the house of David to Paul in his letter to the Romans, the scriptures are replete with instructions for nonviolence.

This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. (Jeremiah 22:3)

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. I

f possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)

In a real sense, we are lovers and fighters.

As God’s beloved, we fight for our integrity, character and purpose in this world.

Some people, who don’t walk in the daily reality of God’s love, fight for other things.

Some people are fighting to get approval from others.

Some are fighting for positions of influence, power and control.

Others are fighting to overcome the fear that would otherwise paralyse them.

When we enter the reality of being beloved by God, however, we begin to recognize God’s weapon of choice – the power of love.

We must begin by loving ourselves as God loves us, and in turn we begin to love others as God loves them.

Jesus referred to this as the second great commandment: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39).

We cannot love our neighbours without loving ourselves first.

God loves us so much that He made a way for us to be transformed and empowered by His love. No matter the situation the circumstances, we find that God’s love empowers us to choose nonviolence.

The ultimate expression of God’s love for us is Christ Jesus.

Hurt people hurt people but for the power of love!


  • Aaron T. Hill, Sr is Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Marist School, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • First published in Today’s Marists, 2023 Vol. 7, Issue 3.
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