In the past 24 hours I was sworn at and insulted by by two separate people. Just in textual form, by near-strangers, no relationship at risk, nothing at stake for me. I'd momentarily appreciate how much I have internalized "their words and expressions have no bearing on me" and move on, but the synchronicity of this after... I don't know how many years it's been since someone got internet-mad at me. I might not have engaged the 2nd if the first hadn't happened, so it's not exactly "woah, what are the odds", but it gets me thinking about the similarities.
In both cases, they'd blown up with someone else, and I reached out with a probe of some friendly advice. Both were, knowingly or unknowingly, in a state where their defense mechanism, what helps them feel safe when agitated, is to lash out in an attempt to hurt others. I'm familiar with the impulse myself. I deal with it in my kids as well - it's very natural, at least at a certain stage of development. It's the rage of the mid-brain primate instincts, the SD-Red impulse to, regardless of the personal cost, make the other person suffer so that no one else in the tribe will ever dare cross you again.
One of these folks was probably about 13-14, and may not even be at a stage where they can see Kegan-3 "socialized mind" opportunities from the Kegan-2 "self-sovereign mind" yet. The other might be late-20's and quite glaringly needs to seek professional help to rescue themselves from a trauma-induced spiral before it damages their career and life further. (Extra context: Therapy is great, everyone should get "professional help" and would if the world were better designed, I have benefited from counseling and recommend it.)
I have no responsibility or obligation to either of these people - feeling a missionary duty of some sort would be an issue for me 20 years ago, but I definitely don't have my ego-bits stuck on that as an identity these days. Seeing these reactions does remind me how scary it can be for someone to open themselves up to even confronting the thought that they might need help. As popular as Brené Brown is, vulnerability requires IMHO some advanced development psychologically! Using a few compassionate words in a singular moment isn't enough to bridge that gap, unless they're already open and looking.
Of course, sometimes you don't know whether someone is open or not until you try. So I don't think it will stop me from trying to be friendly and forward. And I'm sure I haven't mastered the art of appearing harmless, either. But it brings me back to thinking, once again, about how to build connection and relationship - in my own life, with the people around me, and how to scale that to level up society to be big and spacious enough to meet the challenges of this so-complex world.