When I was a girl, there was a boy in my school who had made himself locally famous for being a bully. Looking back, he reminded me of Biff from Back to the Future. Do you remember him, always tormenting the McFlys? There is nothing quite so infuriating as mean kids who try to build themselves up by pushing others down.
Sometimes, mean kids grow up to be mean adults, and in a gross abuse of power, they make the people around them feel small through passive-aggressive remarks, coercion, and victimization. Sadly, some of you know what I’m talking about.
“It is much safer to be feared than loved,” Machiavelli wrote long ago. Machiavelli’s words were an endorsement for manipulation as a means to power. He was arguing, in a sense, that the way to greatness is to make others feel small.
But that’s not true at all, of course. No one has ever become truly great by making others feel small.
No truly great boy mocks the underdog.
No truly great woman gossips about her neighbor.
No truly great girl decides who’s “in” and who’s “out.”
No truly great boss publicly embarrasses his employee.
No truly great man slugs his wife.
No truly great leader lies to get ahead.
No truly great father rules by intimidation and name-calling.
No truly great person makes others feel small.
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